do Chinese restaurants have two names?

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cyrano
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2005/11/29 15:05:21 (permalink)

do Chinese restaurants have two names?

Years ago, I was told, by who I do not remember, that Chinese restaurants in the US usually have two names, that the English language name and the Chinese character name were often-- perhaps rarely-- the same. My by now-anonymous source went on to say that the exceptions tended to be Chinese restaurants that had (for Western tastes) odd names, like "Four-Five-Six" or "Wonderful Vegetarian." Those, my long-gone source said, were more typical of Chinese-Chinese restaurant names, the first one being lucky numbers and the second being a simple description of what the restaurant served.

Has anyone else ever heard this? Do you know how true it is? Thanks.
#1

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    plb
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    RE: do Chinese restaurants have two names? 2005/11/29 16:35:48 (permalink)
    Very common.
    #2
    Gary Soup
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    RE: do Chinese restaurants have two names? 2005/11/30 14:30:43 (permalink)
    That's probably more the rule than the exception in San Francisco, especially in Chinatown. One reason is that when Chinese restaurants change owners, they typically will change the name, and maybe even the type of regional cuisine served, but wil keep the original English name so as to retain their loyal non-Chinese customers.
    #3
    berndog
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    RE: do Chinese restaurants have two names? 2005/11/30 15:32:19 (permalink)
    I don't think this is so prevalent in Rochester, but we used to joke years ago how the names of most local Chinese restaurants were similar to the family style dinners they all listed in the back of the menu. It seemed like they picked one name from column A and one from column B.

    Column A: Lucky, Jade, Great, China, Golden, Chen, Royal, Dragon (sometimes used as 1st name)

    Column B: Garden, Dragon, Palace, Win, Gate, Moon, Star, Wok, Noodle, Dynasty

    Lately, many of the newer places that open have buffet as part of the name, although many of the original order-what-you-want places still exist.

    The funniest name was one that opened up across the street from where I work - Taste Good Chinese Restaurant. It was very good under the original owner, but she moved back to China and the people who bought it ran it into the ground. The food was not good and the place became very dirty inside.

    It closed for a few years and was recently reopened and completely remodeled. The name is now NY Buffet, but their buffet is excellent, and you can order anything you want off the menu or for take-out.
    #4
    Tedbear
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    RE: do Chinese restaurants have two names? 2005/12/01 08:37:31 (permalink)
    Yes, this is true in many cases, but it usually only applies to the Chinese restaurants that have a Chinese clientele in addition to the Caucasian clientele. If it's one of those places that has no Chinese customers (a totally non-authentic restaurant that no Asian person would patronize) then the owners don't usually go to this trouble.

    My ex-S.O. was Cantonese, and when I would be told the "real name", as translated from the Chinese writing on a restaurant's signage, it was almost always totally different from the name that appeared on the sign in English. This was very surprising to me at the time.
    #5
    aharste
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    RE: do Chinese restaurants have two names? 2005/12/01 09:34:11 (permalink)
    Here's a great tutorial on learning on to read Chinese at Chinese restaurants, (including interpreting the Chinese on a restaurant sign:

    http://www.inu.org/meiwah/
    #6
    Scorereader
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    RE: do Chinese restaurants have two names? 2005/12/01 10:40:04 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by aharste

    Here's a great tutorial on learning on to read Chinese at Chinese restaurants, (including interpreting the Chinese on a restaurant sign:

    http://www.inu.org/meiwah/


    That is fantastic. Thanks !
    #7
    cyrano
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    RE: do Chinese restaurants have two names? 2005/12/02 00:30:23 (permalink)
    I echo the thanks! I've wasted a lot of time there already, and intend to waste some more.
    #8
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