I am always taken aback afresh how poetic the Chinese language can be. “Feng Bo Zhuang,” the name of the restaurant, literally means the Mansion of Wind and Waves, but it’s more poetic and metaphoric when taken in context of the theme of the restaurant. The theme is a Chinese pugilistic (wuxia) theme. So jiang-hu refers to the pugilistic underworld of strife, trouble, dog-eat-dog, of love, bad romance and revenge. The closest English translation of jiang-hu would be “society” of the Godfather’s mafia world. In this context, “wind-waves” means the turbulence that goes on in jiang-hu, all that bitter animosity, all that ambition to be #1 fighter to rule the jiang-hu, and all that romance and desires. The couplet by the side of the entrance (人在江湖，身不由己) means when you’re in jiang-hu, you have no choice, you either fight back or die.
The decor, as you can see, goes with the wuxia theme, with swords, spears, and signboards of names of sects hanging everywhere. The wooden tables and benches, designed after pugilistic inn, are rather uncomfortable. The waitresses are dressed in ancient waiter uniform and call themselves 小二 (the olden name for waiter) and address the customers as 大侠 (warrior). The menu is 武林秘籍 (secret fighting skills manual) and the dishes are named after fighting stances. All in all, very very fun. Remember to do the chopstick fight with your friends when you eat here! and 以茶代酒 and 干杯 (pretend that the tea is wine and toast your friends). Everybody, let’s kungfu fighting..hoo! Ha!
Besides being fun, the service was very good. Polite and prompt.
We ordered a specialty, fish in spicy soup with preserved veg ($18), and ma-la tofu (spicy) and two bowls of rice. The dishes had a distinct authentic taste of common China cuisine, but Singaporean tastebuds may not get used to it. The fish soup serving was huge and with much meat, value for money and it was mildly spicy-hot.
When we tried to pay by card, the waitress said, “江湖中只收银两” (in jiang-hu, we only accept silver ingots), which got me laughing. Cash Only. When we left, they did the pugilistic greeting of putting palm to a fist, and chanted a long formula which ended with “后会有机” (a standard valedictory line in wuxia films, meaning “till we meet again”). We spent about $30 for two.
In conclusion, fun theme, good service, value for money, authentic China cuisine – no wonder the restaurant was packed at 7pm on a weekday night. Come early.
Feng Bo Zhuang
57 Temple St
T: 6223 3588 or 90120885
Rating: 3.621/5 stars