Traditionally, snakes are best eaten in the winter after they’ve fattened up all juicy and healthy-like. Or so Chinese medicine would have you believe.
Snakes have been a Cantonese delicacy since the Qing dynasty. According to Chinese medicine because snakes live in damp areas they are good at fighting “dampness” in the body. Symptoms of dampness include feeling heavy but weak in the limbs, loss of appetite, fatigue and dizziness, and eating snake will help kick it out of your body, says Chinese medicine practitioner Dennis Law.
Snake season is back. Winnie Yeung and TC Fung eat up.
HK Magazine: I heard that you're an exchange student.
Lorencio Mateo: Yes, I'm from Seattle and studying for a master’s degree in law at the City University. I came here before starting my studies and worked as a volunteer for Crossroads International.
Lorencio Mateo has visited all 7-Eleven stores in Hong Kong in the name of charity. He shares his odyssey with TC Fung.
HK Magazine: How did you start campaigning?
Wong Wai-king: It goes back to 1982 when I fought for an electricity and water supply for my village. The government and China Light & Power refused to do that for us at first because they said there were only a few households - not economical in their eyes. So I wrote a letter asking for tap water and we finally got it.
From a housewife to a vocal activist, Wong Wai-king has been fighting for the environment and traditional culture of Tai O for over twenty years. She tells her story to TC Fung.
HK Magazine: You were a banker. So why switch to snakes?
Gigi Ng: The shop is my family’s business. My great-great-grandfather first started the venture one hundred and twenty years ago in Central, selling snake soup, steamed rice and more. It’s quite a success. I’m the fourth generation. But the idea of running the restaurant didn’t come to my mind until my father died in 2003. I decided to quit to assist my mother. I did struggle a bit but my fondest childhood memories are of being in the shop, helping my parents and having fun.
It has been seven years since Gigi Ng ditched her banking career to run a snake shop that has become an icon of Hong Kong’s local culinary scene. She tells her girl-meets-snakes story to TC Fung.
We love Japanese food. What with the number of colossal chains finding their way to our shores, our raw fish craving has never been higher. But while securing a table at Megu, Zuma or Nobu might be hard, the truth is we’re surrounded by decent Japanese restaurants serving just as good – if not better – cuisine. Ordinarily, one would have to hunt for that slice of sashimi, but we’ve rounded them up for you.
Take a break from the chic and go for authentic Japanese, writes TC Fung. Photos by Kay Yuen.
HK Magazine: How did you get into the restaurant business?
Derek Cheung: There weren’t many choices and catering was one of the most popular trades back then. My uncles were working at Jimmy’s Kitchen, so they helped me get a job here. Of course, I had to start from bottom as a busboy. I did chores like washing the glasses and removing the wax from the candleholders. The work was tough sometimes, but to me Jimmy’s Kitchen was like a Shaolin monastery— a place where you can master all the important aspects.
From busboy to captain, Derek Cheung has been serving Jimmy’s Kitchen for 25 years. He gives TC Fung some food for thought.
HK Magazine: As a student of economics, you could get yourself a high-paying job somewhere. So why this?
Community organizer Ng Wai-tung has dedicated his life to helping the homeless of Hong Kong. He tells TC Fung that being homeless doesn’t mean you’re helpless.
Sick of Shanghainese? Can’t have another bite of Cantonese? Don’t worry, there’s a little bit of every part of China in Hong Kong, if you look hard enough. Fortunately, we’ve already done the looking for you – this is what we found.
TC Fung and Florence Li track down some hard-to-find Chinese cuisines
HK Magazine: Do you have much background in the business of death?
Nicole Leung: You bet. I used to be a reporter covering paranormal topics for a local daily - haunted houses, ghost stories and UFOs. I ended up befriending a girl who is the proprietor of a family-run funeral home. Through her, I met many people working in the field, people often thought of as mysterious and secluded from the outside world. That’s how I got started on the book.
Author Nicole Leung paints a real and lurid picture of the mortuary business in her book, “Six Feet Under.” She talks to TC Fung.
HK Magazine: You bought a flat in Chungking in the late 80s, when it was a criminal hotbed. That was quite risky.
Salina Lam: Well, you may say so but I saw it as a good place to open my inn because of its accessibility and the huge inflow of Taiwanese tourists. Doing business is about taking risks and I’m lucky I made it. I’ve been in Tsim Sha Tsui almost my entire life and it’s great. Where else on this earth could you find so many people from all corners of the world?
Salina Lam, “Iron Lady” to her neighbors, is the chairwoman of the Incorporated Owners of Chungking Mansions. She tells TC Fung about making over the Mansions, and how she lures the marks, er, tourists.