Pride of Place: Jimmy Chan

Pride of Place: A series in which teaching staff and students from the English Department reflect on a place in Hong Kong. [Read all entries.] [Revisit the “Pet Sounds” series.] [Revisit the “Headspace” series.] [Revisit the “Ongoing” series.] [Revisit the “Interrogative” series.]

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When I was a secondary schooler, I would usually head down to Burrows Street in Wan Chai to grab a quick fix takeaway at Lucky’s Restaurant (樂景快餐店). First impression: my friend and I thought retired Triad members ran the place.

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The vibe was quite similar to the shabby eatery in the Stephen Chow film The God of Cookery (1996). Grotty old Wan Chai.

The staff there radiated the essence of being ‘maluck’ (麻甩), the meaning of which is close to what Australians would call bogan, and what Americans call redneck. ‘Maluck’ comes originally from the French word malade, which means sick. I’d say the people there were sick. Cool and awesome. So, there was the old gentleman with the huge mole, which had a long drooping hair sticking out; there was the portly, stalwart cook who effortlessly tossed the food in the wok; there was the bulky delivery man with an afro, who always wore a black T-shirt and scooted here and there on his bike. I couldn’t remember all of them, but there was the cartoonish quality that I wouldn’t forget.

I’d always order egg and beef rice in black pepper sauce (黑椒蛋牛). The short-hand they used when taking orders was esoteric—the exorcism runes scribbled by Taoist priests were more decipherable. The chief object of awe and respect in the shop was the wok. ‘Breath of the wok’, or ‘wok hei’, indicates the intensity of heat under the wok. At Lucky’s, the howling sound of the wok made me think they had fitted a jet engine under it. That said, the beef and the fried egg was good.

It’s been years since I have eaten there. I can’t be sure if it holds up to the standards of modern picky eaters. I once felt, unprompted, burrowing in my ears the howling sound of the ‘wok hei’, which might have been either Sehnsucht, or some sort of Stockholm Food Syndrome.

Lucky’s Restaurant is still going strong, though I have heard that new hands have replaced the old-timers.

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A recent picture. Thanks to the car, that’s the best angle I could have.

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JimmyJimmy Chan is a graduate of the Department of English and Department of Education (Class of 2016). He is an avid video gamer and he has learnt his vocabulary by playing video games excessively. [Click here to read all entries by Jimmy.]

 

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