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Where's the beef?

Sunday, November 12, 2006
By: Joey Yap

One day, while visiting my favourite ginger and spring onion fried beef and Gong Foo Chow (Cantonese Fried noodles) restaurant Soo Kee, in Jalan Imbi, I had an inspired moment. I'm always looking for new ideas and material for my column - my friends of course never fail to remind me that my readers are always hungry for more new interesting information from me every week, even though I can't imagine how it is possible to be boring with so many things about Classical Feng Shui to write about!

So in the vein of staying interesting, this week's article is a little different because I will be talking about the Feng Shui of a real place. Usually in my articles, the examples are often hypothetical so it can sometimes be difficult for readers to 'see' the Feng Shui as it were. By talking about the Feng Shui of a real place, it makes it easier not just for people to see the Feng Shui and how it works, but to go to the place and see it with their own eyes. Just as I always tell my students that 'Walking the Mountains' is an integral part of any Feng Shui education, so for laypersons and enthusiasts of Feng Shui, hearing the theoretical explanation, and then seeing the actual place, makes it easier to understand how the nuts and bolts of Feng Shui work.

Most of you might have wondered why it is that certain restaurants or businesses seemed to have boomed in one place, but failed in another. Or why is it that one business can succeed in a particular location, but the next tenant doesn't achieve the same effect, despite being at the same location and sometimes even, doing the same business!

The ability of a business to succeed in a certain location is often attributed to the 'Feng Shui' but often, no one knows 'what' this Feng Shui actually is. In business, Feng Shui is like an invisible edge over your competitors - it is there, but no one really knows what it is or what it looks like. Of course, this sometimes leads to ridiculous situations where business owners refuse to touch any part of their property (for upgrading or renovation purposes for example) in the belief that it will muck the Feng Shui.

It is also with this in mind that I have decided to write about real locations and their Feng Shui setup. While it is true that Feng Shui can play a part in the ability of a business to succeed or do well, it is important to know 'why' the Feng Shui of a location is working and why it benefits a particular type of business, and not just buy into the 'good Feng Shui' statement blindly.

Find the Qi, Collect the Qi, Tap the Qi

My favourite fried beef and Cantonese noodles restaurant, Soo Kee, is a good illustration of how Feng Shui works in a business context or environment.

The proprietor of Soo Kee is Jasmine Hon - she runs the business together with her sister Jessica. Across the road, is another family restaurant, run by their brother. Soo is not the family name, but is in fact her father's name. The family surname is Hon. The late Mr Hon Soo came to Malaysia at the end of the 2nd world war, and had been known for his fried beef and noddles, and teaching his daughters and sons the technique of good 'wok hei' and passing down the cooking secrets all these years. The Soo Kee business has moved three times since Mr Hon Soo started it, from their original location in Jalan Silang (now known as Jalan Tun Tan Siew Sin where it was known as Tai Shue Tau the restaurant under the big tree!), to a location near Guangdong Bank, behind Isetan, and then to the shop opposite its current location. In 1987, the business moved across the road to where it has stayed till today. I have, on different occasions, visited Soo Kee for lunch, dinner and supper and it's always busy and full of customers. Of course, the excellent fried beef and noodles is one reason but we all know of restaurants with great food that couldn't survive. Here's where a little Feng Shui help comes in.

The basic principle behind Feng Shui is simple enough. Find the Qi, collect the Qi, and then tap the Qi. To find the Qi, one must first identify the sources of the Qi or the Qi mouths. This is the direction in which the Qi enters an area. Next, the Qi must be allowed to settle or collect - this requires a Ming Tang or Bright Hall. Finally, once an area has Qi entering it, and the Qi has a means to collect, it is simply a matter of opening a suitable door (or doors as it were) to collect and bring in the Qi.


Soo Kee Restaurant is located in Jalan Imbi, at a corner lot. The first thing you will notice about the restaurant is that squarely in front of it, is a little miniature park as it were. This little park is extremely important - it functions as a Bright Hall or Ming Tang, to enable the collection of the Qi. What is the source of Qi then that collects at this Bright Hall? Look at the road in the picture. You will notice it curves gently towards the restaurant - in fact, if you sit inside the restaurant, you can see how the road brings the Qi towards the area just in front of the restaurant. In addition, there is a secondary Qi mouth that brings in Qi from the left hand side, from the main Jalan Imbi. If you drive towards Soo Kee, from Jalan Imbi, you will notice that you are always travelling on an incline. Jalan Imbi itself is located at a lower level compared to Jalan Bukit Bintang. And Soo Kee itself is on a slightly lower tier, from the main Jalan Imbi. In classical Feng Shui this is known as Descending Water formation. So the Qi flows from Jalan Bukit Bintang, down the road next to Sungai Wang (which incidentally, thanks to a well-located Main Door, is scooping up the Qi as well, hence it's prosperity till this day!) onto Jalan Imbi, and then meanders its way down and around, following the roads, to settle in the Bright Hall right in front of Soo Kee Restaurant!

All the proprietors had to do was open a door to receive the Qi. And that is exactly what they did. There are 3 doors in Soo Kee Restaurant but the largest door or entrance, coincidentally, is the one that is located exactly at the point where the Qi enters the area. Feng Shui is really that simple - find the Qi, make sure it has a place to collect, and then open the right doors.

From a technical standpoint, for those of you who are interested in the calculations aspect of it, the location of this property conforms perfectly to the principles of Direct and Indirect Spirit. The water flow conforms to the marco Ling Shen location - North and East. Specifically the property itself sits on the Tai Hexagram, with Qi mouth in the Tun and Li of the 64 Hexagrams conforming to the Xuan Kong Da Gua formation.

Also, from a Forms point of view, this property has an excellent embrace, provided by the buildings on the left and the right (Green Dragon and White Tiger), with the Qi that collects in the Bright Hall protected and locked in by a regulating Table Mountain in front. Qi is also prevented from escaping by the buildings located behind the Qi mouth. Internally, the restaurant's general lay out, like cashier location, also follows the rules on internal forms, as appropriate for a restaurant business.

Jasmine tells me that they did hire a Feng Shui master when they moved over to this location, but he didn't ask them to fix anything. A wise Feng Shui master indeed, given that nothing really needed fixing! And like with all things, in Feng Shui, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. According to Jasmine, since Soo Kee moved to its present location twenty years ago, business has been very good - their first night in their new location, she said, left her with aching legs because they were so busy!

Part of the fun in Feng Shui is figuring out why an area works, why a business succeeds, or why things click in a certain location, as a result of the Feng Shui. And there's nothing like a real life example, to make the puzzle worthwhile figuring out, what more a location that has good food to boot! So hop over to Jalan Imbi, order up a plate of fried beef, some coconut water, and take a look for yourself. Check out how the set-up of the restaurant - the subtle angle of the door, the slight dip in the road at the entrance, the roof, the tree at the entrance - play their role in optimising the Qi and Feng Shui of the area but remember to pay attention as you drive towards and pull up to the restaurant. Have fun figuring out the Feng Shui of Soo Kee!

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