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Chengdu (recs) and Yung Kee, HK (what's the deal?)

I'll be in Chengdu in two days time. Going to spend a few nights there (between visits to other places in Sichaun). I'd appreciate any recommendations for restaurants/eating places while there.
I've heard the "old town" food stalls/street food culture is no longer what it once was (similar to the dai pai dong situation in HK, I imagine). What's your advice? (will be travelling with someone fluent in mandarin but neither of us is versed in the local dialect)

On a different subject: Yung Kee (HK).
I'm thinking of making reservations there at some point in the near future. Having read the various reviews and rumours of VIP floors, exclusive clubs etc. I'm curious what the deal is.
Is access to the "upper levels" really worth it? Am I likely to get a significantly inferior experience as a "common" customer? Not that I'm suggesting it's a Bruce Lee/Game of Death situation :D but if it's really worth the trouble and expense, is there some secret handshake I need to be aware of to ensure a table on the fabled 4th (surely not actually numbered 4, superstition and all that...?) , 8th floors?

Thanks

Harry

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  1. Of course if there's a better place than Yung Kee for roast goose - I'm eager to hear about it. Already tried Yat Lok which was OK but def. overrated imho.

    1. Ref: Yung Kee
      Yes! Based on my dining experiences in the lower floors, 4th floor, as well as the top floor club member level, IMO, there is definitely noticeable differences in both quality of food as well as service.rendered. If one stick with some traditional wok-hay dishes, soup dumplings or fried rice, differences of the food quality are negligible between floors. However, when it comes to specialty dishes, dim sums and the 'goose', then the top floor level does get full marks. For example, perfectly steamed Har Gow with 'additional gold leaf' accent!, almost guarantee fresh, hot and juicy roast goose with crispy skin...etc.
      To dine at the top floor, one needs to be either a 'Yung's Member' or the holder of the American Express Centurian Black card!! To become a member of the latter, one has to have spending expenses in excess of US$500,000 per year.and the annual card fee is around US$3000.
      As for an alternate 'great roast goose' place, give 'The Manor' in Wan Chai a try!
      Have fun and good luck!

      3 Replies
      1. re: Charles Yu

        Okay. "The Manor" sounds like a promising alternative.
        Thanks for the info, Charles!

        1. re: harryrodgers

          How adventurous a foodie are you?
          If you are in the mood for some exotic and interesting Cantonese food in addition to the roast goose, you can give ' Se Wong Yee ' ( Snake King 2 ) on Percival Street, Causeway Bay a try?!! They have some excellent Chinese B-B-Q including a very good roast goose. However, they are also 'world famous' for their 'Shredded snake meat soup' ( no joke! taste like chicken!! ) and ' Fresh duck liver Chinese preserve sausages ". A combo of the above three items will only set you back by less than HK$200!! A really great deal!

          1. re: Charles Yu

            Oh I'm game for just about anything! I did already try snake soup from a small vendor in Tai Po Market and yes it's kinda like stringy chicken :P
            I like the sound of the chinese sausages though. Thanks for the recs!
            Harry

      2. Eating in Chengdu is quite seasonal. Right now you want to try dishes made from the local bacon and sausage and visit places that specialize in 'tang guo - it's eaten pretty much the same way as hot pot but is not really considered hot pot. Styles of tang guo that are really popular right now include old duck and mushroom, Jianyang lamb soup, and Leshan "foot twisting" beef. For more traditional hot pot, my normal rec is Shu Jiu Xiang, since they are very, very good and can usually dig up an English menu, but if your companion does Chinese you can also go to Ma La Kongjian. If you want to watch an opera show with hot pot there is Da Miao hot pot or the old standard (but very expensive) Huang Cheng Lao Ma.

        You don't mention where you will be (and traffic is a huge, huge consideration here) but there are decent fly restaurants in every neighbourhood that is not too gentrified, and barbecue in the evenings. Most common rec for street food is Jinli, have a look since you can see lots of variety there, unfortunately I have never had really good snacks there.

        7 Replies
        1. re: pepper_mil

          Thanks pepper_mil. Just arrived.
          FWIW I'm staying on Renminnan Lu at the intersection with the second ring road - so I think I'm a bit far out of the town center. Going to get bearings and look up some of your recs.
          Cheers
          Harry

          1. re: harryrodgers

            Across the street is our only Sichuanese molecular cuisine restaurant, Yunmen. It was more interesting than fantastic when I tried it but could be a unique experience. It's one of the pricier places in town, probably 400-500 rmb per person. If home cooking is more your speed there is Xiao Jian Jiao in that neighbourhood, or you could wander through the big complex beside the Great World Carrefour. There are reportedly some good places in there but I haven't been to check them out yet.

            1. re: pepper_mil

              After doing the tourist thing at Jinli and some random street eats (forget which road) we ended up going out to the Ma La Kongjian for dinner. Appropriately named! I think my mouth is still tingling a little :P Thanks pepper_mil.
              I'll be in and out of Chengdu over the next week. Thinking of splurging on a reservation at Yu's for the last night.
              Cheers
              Harry

              1. re: harryrodgers

                I was in Chengdu last weekend and my friend took me to SanZhiEr cold pot fish (三只耳火锅,武侯区倪家桥路10号 - 028-85152898) and HongXing restaurant (红杏酒家). The latter does very good rendition of traditional Sichuan food.
                http://zj.ehongxing.com/index.asp

                1. re: Ting Ting

                  Thank you Ting Ting.
                  I just got back into Chengdu today. Had a truly amazing meal at Yu's Family Kitchen. Sadly going back to HK tomorrow. I know I've barely scratched the surface of this city's food culture. Definitely hope to be back sometime.
                  Thanks again also to pepper_mil.

                  1. re: harryrodgers

                    You'd be happy for the warm weather in HK! Chengdu was so cold that I took a detour to Xichang (3-22C!) and enjoyed a meal at the Satellite Hotel banquet room (doubles as the announcement room for the Xichang Satellite Launch Center). I was more excited about the podium that the food...
                    There are some interesting restaurants for the Yi minority group there and I also went for the famous Xichang BBQ @ Big Beard Zhou...

                     
                     
                    1. re: Ting Ting

                      Cold....Tell me about it! I was on Emeishan at the Jinding summit. Gastronomic highlights? Hell, I was thankful for some hot instant noodles :D
                      While in Chengdu, I did get to try the original Chen Mapo Doufu. Pretty good imho.

        2. Just a small update: I had lunch at Yung Kee recently (4th floor). What you get on the 4th floor (in my opinion) is a slightly less chaotic atmosphere/environment than the first three and decent service. The food was good although the goose did suffer from being a little on the cold side by the time it got to the table. From phone enquiries, I got the impression that the 8th (Yung's club) floor is primarily for larger parties (advanced booking). I wonder if at least some of the rumors of exclusivity come from confusion with the "Kee Club" which is a private member's club in the same building (6th floor) and not affiliated with Yung Kee afaik. Membership to the "Kee Club" can allegedly be gained from being a "black" american express card holder.