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.
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I won’t be able to try “Lang Jai” or “Lang Looi” unless you tell me what it means! I have been around too many times when people set you up for something by giving unusual information (not that you’d do that).
I do know mm-goi for thank you. I know there are two kinds of thank you, and forget the other one. But mm-goi is usually taken pretty well.
Lang Jai is pretty boy.
Lang Looi is pretty girl.
Personally, I cringe when I hear people call the servers this.
It sounds sexist.
As a Cantonese speaker, I actually do not use it on anyone. LOL. In fact, I would hate it if someone tries to call me “Lang Looi” and ask me for a favour.
Of course, unless people call me “Lang Looi” sincerely then it’s a whole other story…:P
You’ve blogged about Angel Cake House/Cafe before. It is a fairly reliable HKSC for my hubby and I. Prices are fairly inexpensive, portions are pretty decent and they don’t charge extra for a cold drink if the drink is included… that’s why my hubby keeps on insisting we go back.
This past Christmas/New Year’s, they had a promo, where you get at least a 10 oz. prime rib steak for about $16-$17. It came with a fruit salad, lobster bisque, baked potato, choice of rice or spaghetti, dessert – it ended up being cheesecake, and drink… all for about $17. It was pretty tasty, too!!! Unfortunately, it was only during the holidays…
Hi Joanne: I still remember the visit to the Angel Cake House. That is a good place like you said. Sometimes it is sad that Suanne and I never get to go back to these places because we had to always go to new places.
I used to work in a restaurant tons of years ago and we were told to fill the glass full with ice ( as much as possible ) as ice is cheaper than the beverage lol I thought it was funny they charged extra for ice lol
Please DO NOT use “Lang Jai” and “Lang Looi” to servers! They mean “handsome guy and “pretty girl” respectively. It’s like going to Earl’s and calling your server “cutey” or “sexy” or to get better service! It’s rude and demeaning.
No Ratzilla. I don’t think it is rude and demeaning. It really all depends on how you say it. 🙂
I agree. I haven’t called any servers lang jai or lang looi. But I have entered HK style restaurants where they have called me that before! HAHA! Hilarious. I didn’t know how to respond the first time. It’s just funny.
lol – it just depends on who is saying it, how they’re saying it, and who they’re saying it to. I have an aunt who will always try to get freebies by saying it to the busboys / waiters and it’s frankly a little embarassing, but amusing at the same time. I do cringe when I hear hawkers yell it out at random people, it makes me want to buy from them less!
The portrait is of the owner, he also runs a spa / “mei yong yuen” / esthetic-slash-beautification company and now owns Ho Yuen. Nothing much has changed, except that there were some “healthy” options added to the menu, and more notably, that the waitstaff has, apparently, become younger and fresher / prettier faced.
LOL Ben & Suanne, you guys must not watch enough Chinese TV – how else could you not know who “Dr” Jamie Chan is? 🙂 The guy is one of the more… let’s say memorable… characters on Fairchild TV. No need to worry about him opening himself up for ridicule – he is way past that already.
Oh … so that is Jaime Chan? No we don’t have fairchild channel at home. But now that you mentioned it, Suanne knows who you are talking about.
I guess I am like Nanzaro too :). I made fried rice several times for lunch and dinner. But I bet he is better at cooking fried rice than me as he orders fried rice a lot, and I just usually use the same combo of ingredients and flavors.
It’s quite interesting how you say that the HK style cafes do not ask how much you want the steak to be cooked- in my area all of them ask. Different place, different situation!
Haha, I still haven’t tried it out just simply because of the picture they put in front of the restaurant. I am not trying to be mean, but it gives me a feeling of entering a funeral hall.
LOL! Now that you mentioned it, that does look like what you said.
Yeah. “Dr” (most definitely does NOT have a phD or a MD LOL!!) Jamie Chan is a fool. Nobody in the Chinese community takes him seriously.
Uhm… I went here with some friends and my family in the summer. One word: NASTAYyyyyyyyYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY. There are enough good HKSCs in Vancouver to never touch this one. EVER.
Ho Yuen used to be my go-to restaurant for quick dinners, etc. That is, before it was bought out by that fat bastard…
I’ve heard that Jamie Chan is a pretty big douche, but I don’t know myself so I can’t judge. I personally think that Ho Yuen’s food has gone down the crapper from years before. Many other better HK style cafes to choose from. Also I always go to King’s Park and find that their food is one of the better ones for HK style cafes in Richmond.
You are right that Jamie Chan is setting himself up for ridicule. Everyone among my friends make fun of him it’s not even funny! We hate seeing him on TV =P what I don’t understand is why he would put his face up on the commercials on the time when he runs a spa and a restaurant. Honestly it’s not convincing nor does it make me wanna eat his food =P sorry I am being meannn hahaha however I think I still prefer King’s Park? As long as the service is not too bad it’s bearable to me in Chinese restaurants…
Those chicken wings better than ReFuels fried chicken… Pleaasssseeee tell me you were kidding.
I also can’t stand “Dr” Jaime. I always always change the channel when he comes on the tv or even radio. Don’t know what type of “doctor” he is, but I sure don’t believe he’s an medical physician!
Also, if you are the owner and promoter of a “guaranteed body slimming program”, you should at least LOOK the part. If it’s so effective, why do you still have a pot belly huh??
Ok, rant over.
Ben, I hesitate to use Lang Jai and Lang Looi, because then they think I can read the menus and I can’t order by pointing to it anymore… LOL!
If I use “lang jai” on a waiter, he’s gonna think i’m gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with it.
And if I use “lang lui” on a waitress, she’s probably gonna think I’m being sarcastic in which case I’ll get spit in my food.
You are so funny, Muji. LOL!
I LOL’ED when i saw him at steve nash sports club!!!!! and i think to my self that his spa is a complete failure because if they it did work then he would have been skinny by now. Cuz he own the place = unlimited access to the machines that make u skinny.
Before he bought over the beauty saloon at Metrowtown behind Uncle Willy, its business was pretty decent. Cheat me once shame on you; cheat me twice shame on me.
LOL about the lang-jai & lang-looi story.
I actually heard an older regular patron calling a mid-30 waiter “koko-chai” and one of the waitresses “ah mooi” at Fisherman’s Terrace.
This place was rather good prior to the recent change but afterwards, I didn’t like it at all. Service was so insanely slow and everything tasted of such grease…
“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. ”
too close to the truth, ben.
and those two aren’t actually a married couple, they’re business partners haha.
‘dr’ jamie chan lives a couple houses away from me. his commercial with his dog jumping over some stone barriers was filmed at the portables of my old high school.
Interesting, Eliza. At the rate all the comments are coming in about “Dr” Jaime, we can compile a complete dossier on him. LOL!
They charge you extra for cold beverages because they DO give you more beverage content.
If you order hot beverages, they are served in teacup sizes, and if you order cold ones, it’s served in a glass or at least the size as big as the mug in your picture.
Before the ownership changed, Ho Yuen used to be my family’s usual haunt. The food was always good and it was cheap. I haven’t been back since the change in ownership…..partly due to not liking this “Dr.” Jamie Chan, and also because I’ve heard very bad reviews and I don’t want to tarnish the Ho Yuen name in my eyes.
FYI, the old owners of Ho Yuen will be opening up a new restaurant very soon (unknown name and cuisine at the moment)! It will be located beside Sun Sui Wah Restaurant in Richmond where the tanning salon used to be. I can’t wait for them to open up again!
I recently stumbled across your site & have since become a fan. Can’t help but have to comment on the “new” Ho Yuen operators after reading all blogs on them. “Dr.” Jamie Chan & Elaine Wong rented the premises from the new owner (also a restauranteur). Reviews have been bad since the takeover, but I had to see & taste for myself. True enough, the food is unspeakably awful and it appears they like to use yellow coloring on their food, even on their Hainanese chicken! Yuks!! For all you foodies who liked the previous owners food, they will be re-opening around mid-Feb; new location @ 8053 Alexandra Rd , across from Sun Sui Wah. They will be serving the same HKSC cuisine. New name: Kam Ho Restaurant.
Gosh, how do you guys know all these things?!? Thanks for sharing. Suanne and I will keep an eye out for the new Kam Ho. It does sound like Kam Do doesn’t it? LOL!
just google video jamie chan.
his commercials are so lame.. makes my eyes bleed and ears pop!
Ben, it’s the connections we have where we get all the latest info….LOL!! As for the “Dr’s” commercial on Fairchild, anyone noticed he no longer point his 1 finger…alas! it’s his whole palm now i.e. 5 fingers! LOL!! What a jerk! Tks AL for the video clip….why do you even watch this fat jerky??? I heard he’s mean to his staff too….
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Really really want to give Dr. Chan’s restaurant a try every time I walk by. I just lose my appetite when I see his portrait and him inside.
I didn’t know what “Lang Jai” and “Lang Looi were until somone here provided the translation. Please don’t use it and stop romantising Cantonese like in Japanese. Cantonese and any Chinese dialects can not be romantised. I do not know why white guys especially white politicians trying to win Hongcouverite votes by speaking Cantonese on TV. Cantonese is a very difficult language to master pronunciation-wise unlike Japanese which non asians can master relatively easily without any trace of accent after some practice. For those CBCs, learn the language or don’t speak it at all, I always hear they try to say tofu in Cantonese and end up sounding like “under-wear” in Cantonese.
Jamie Chan is no ph.D or MD. Either he does not have one or bought one from some online schools, there are all sort of phDs in crappy subjects. He claims to have a MBA on his web site but MBA is one of the easiest masters among any masters programmes except those really crappy ones (even George W Bush has one although I don’t think he is as stupid as others portrait him to be), it is a report based programme , not thesis based.
Also, as many have pointed out. If his beauty salon is so successful, how come he is still fat. I swear I can still spot him from Earth if someone places him on the Moon ; he would still have weight even if the Moon has only 1/6 of Earth’s gravity. He would have left a permanent foot print on the Moon.
I can’t stand his commercials. He has tried almost everything. From the sky (piloting his plane), land (his long forgotten running-with-the-dog commercial) and the water (swimming like a giant blue whale) in the swimming pool. He has even tried dancing Tango wearing black as if black will help him look thinner (it only helps if the background is also black). I was so worried that the dance floor could collapse any minute.
Just want to correct a sentence I posted :
“(even George W Bush has one although I don’t think he is as stupid as others portrait him to be),”
….though I don’t think he is as stupid as others portrait him to be.
opps , I didn’t know I was typing romantise instead of romanise.
Anyway, please don’t use these “Lang Jai” and “Lang Looi , they make someone look like they are from some village.
There seem to have been a number of changes to this restaurant since you’ve made this post.
First off, the lady is no longer on the poster outside the restaurant. It’s just the fat guy now.
Second, the portion sizes are a LOT smaller than what is shown in your pictures. We ordered fried rice and the serving we received was what is shown in your SECOND fried rice picture. Yet the price is the same. $10.
Third, we were there at peak dinner time (Friday 7pm), and there was only one other table in the restaurant.
Fourth, they no longer offer any free dessert.
Fifth, service is rude. Extremely rude. Our waitress actually accused us of lying when we said we were missing a dish. SHE SAID THAT IT CAME AND WE ALREADY ATE IT.
Needless to say we have no plans to return in the near future.