Thursday, February 16, 2006

Chinese Menus

I love Chinese food, and consequently I spend a lot of time in Chinese restaurants. One of the fringe benefits of a meal in a Chinese restaurant, as if the food were not enough, is the menu. Chinese menus have some of the most remarkably odd locutions and typos. For instance, I go to one restaurant whose menu tells the customer that "the order of taking out is much larger than the order of eating here." Being a loyal fellow of the Order of Eating Here, I content myself with smaller portions. Another restaurant I frequent has a menu chock full of the most marvelous typos. Under the heading "Poutry," (no, there is not a section called "Prose"), they list an item called "Baked Squad." The seafood section gets equal time with two typos of its own. One item, nicely counterbalancing the squad, is "Fried Squib." And the other dish, which I have never ordered for fear it might turn out not to be a typo after all, is "Sliced Couch with Ginger."

[Note: I wrote this piece some time ago, maybe the early '90s. The restaurant with the symmetrical typos was called Kam Fung. Over time, the name of the restaurant morphed in stages, first to King Fung, then to Jing Fong. I actually haven't been back there in years, because I always suspected the name transformations were somehow related to ongoing labor disputes, the restaurant having been the site of several long-term picket lines. On the other hand, the name changes may simply have been the new owners' attempts to cut corners on signage modifications.]


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