Updated: 4th July 2012: This restaurant had closed.
Let me share with you an invaluable a tip.
This is particularly for those of you who are not conversant in Cantonese.
I remember a discussion on chowtimes on why non-Chinese customers felt that they do not get equal treatment in Chinese restaurants, particularly HK Style Cafes. I think it is more because of the waitresses inability to communicate effectively in English as the root cause more than anything else.
Here is the tip. You just need to learn two simple phrases. The two phrases are “Lang Jai” and “Lang Looi”. If you need anything, just say “Lang Jai” and pause for a second before you ask. This is only valid if the waiter is a he. To a waitress, just say “Lang Looi”.
It works all the time. Trust me. It even works in any settings — you can even use it on your Cantonese colleagues and they will do anything you ask of them.
Try it the next time you go to a HK Style Cafe and I am very sure you will be very pleased with the response. Just remember you learn this on chowtimes.com.
Let me repeat … “Lang Jai” for the he-server and “Lang Looi” for the she-server.
Last weekend Suanne suggested we go check out that restaurant in the Union Square on Capstan Way. She can’t remember the name of the restaurant but just that one that has the big portraits of the owners on the window.
I don’t know if there is a story behind the portraits or if they are famous or something. We can’t help but feel that doing this will just open themselves to ridicule. But then on the flip side, this makes the restaurant easy to remember. When Suanne said the restaurant with the husband and wife portrait, I immediately know which one she is saying.
The restaurant is called Ho Yuen. I think they had just changed ownership or something. The name remained the same.
The restaurant is large and takes up two shop lots. There is a sign that this place can take a maximum of 96 customers.
The interior is very typical HK Style Cafe with no frills decor. To lend to that Hongkong’ish feel, they have black and white photos of the famous urban areas in HK.
It appears Ho Yuen is popular. It was already half full of customers even though we were there before peak dinner time.
Service was very fast. They set us up with drinks and menu instantly. We did not have to use the “Lang Jai” / “Lang Looi” technique.
Like in all HK Style Cafes, they have a large selection which came in several menus — with a variety of combinations. Everyone in our family like this because there is always something that each of us will like.
Like in all HK Style Cafe, there is the Iced Milk Tea which normally comes along free with the combo. Ho Yuen uses exactly the same type of mug that Kingspark uses (we hate Kingspark because they not only have bad service, it is also rude!).
You know, I find that more and more HKSC is charging these beverages. It used to be free but they now charge $1 if you want it with ice. That part I don’t understand because it is not like you get more tea/coffee if you just add ice cubes in it.
I ordered from their Make Your Own Favourite Combo. With this you could pick two main items for $8.75 or three items for a dollar more. The three items is the better deal and so I got that.
My three choices were the steak, short ribs and deep fried chicken wings. I went with spaghetti over the other choices of rice or fries.
The meat were really greasy but I must say that they are not bad. That is sort of saying it is not great but certainly more than edible.
The short rib tasted good but I find it a bit too tough. I am not complaining because after all this is … just $10.
Our “Lang Looi” asked me how I wanted the steak done. I was kind of surprised because they don’t normally ask this in a HK Style Cafe. Somewhat amused, I said medium rare like I always get.
Well, the steak is really thin. Can you technically call this a steak? I guess you can.
Surprisingly, it actually came medium rare for the most part.
I asked for the Herbal and Garlic sauce to go with the combo for a change from the normal peppercorn sauce.
Urgh. The sauce congealed to a thick blob that it hardly moved when I tried to pour it over the spaghetti. A quick swirl did the trick.
The deep fried chicken wings are really good. It is simply the best item on this so-so combination.
The skin is really crispy and the meat is moist. We were telling ourselves that this is certainly better than Refuel’s fried chicken, Polderside or not.
See how unrefined our tastes are? LOL!
The $10 combo also came with mushroom cream soup. There are quite a lot of mushroom and the soup is rich and smooth and flavourful.
This combo is satisfying for me — highly satisfying.
Suanne ordered the Lamb Hot Pot which is $10.
We were surprised to learn that rice is extra. For ten bucks one would have assumed it will come with rice. After all, who actually will eat this without rice. The sauce is too thick to drink like a soup.
Despite the strong rich color, it tasted rather bland. It is only the mustard dipping sauce that adds a little saltiness to it.
The ingredients here includes mushroom, beancurd stick, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, chicken (yeah chicken in a lamb hotpot) and lots of ginger. All of them are our favourite ingredients.
The lamb is great — chunky with the fatty skin intact. The texture is firm. We enjoyed this but too bad there were not a lot of pieces of this in the pot.
Nanzaro ordered the Salted Fish Chicken Fried Rice — what else?
This is $10.
Nanzaro is the best judge of fried rice. You see he gobbles down fried rice like there is no tomorrow.
If he ended up hardly 1/2 of the serving, something is obviously wrong. He complained that it was too bland immediately after taking a bite. So we both tried it and indeed it was really bland. It was like yellow colored steamed rice … not quite but you know what I mean.
There is a very faint hint of salted fish.
Nanzaro asked for this to-go and guess what he did when he got home … he re-fried the fried rice on his own adding his own ingredients. LOL! Seriously, he can make very good fried rice. While other Asian boys would have instant noodles for supper at home, he makes fried rice. Actually Suanne always cook extra steamed rice because more often than not Nanzaro will ask for rice so that he can make his own fried rice.
Although the menu did not state so, we all got free mung bean dessert soup. It was good but really nothing to write about.
Overall the food is OK. Some items are cheap while others (like the Lamb hot pot) is not.
Ho Yuen is just another of the many HK Style Cafes in Richmond we could now go to for a simple meal. Yeah, I think we will be back because they have such a large menu.
They accept cash only, BTW.
Alright, if there is one thing I want you to remember from this post, it is to remember to use the “Lang Jai” and “Lang Looi” technique in a HK Style Cafe.
OK guys, I was just pulling your legs about the Lang Jai/Lang Looi thingy.