Chinese Restaurant Names

Saturday’s SF Chronicle featured an interesting article about a woman artist who is collecting Chinese restaurant takeout menus. Check it out at http://www.indigosom.com

My question: Why is it that the English name of so many Chinese restaurants doesn’t correspond to its Chinese name? Queen’s House and Golden Wok in Mountain View correspond to “Money Precious” and “Luck to my House” in Chinese. When my aunt calls me up and tells me in Chinese to meet her at the “Half-Acre” restaurant, I’ll ask her what the name of the restaurant is in English, so I can look up directions on Yahoo. “I don’t know.” If I’m lucky she’ll have their phone number, so I can call them up and find out that their English name is A&J.

Flipping through the yellow pages and looking at some ads unearths the following. . .

Tom’s Chinese Kitchen in Oakland is “Dragon Horse”, symbols of strength. Bamboo Garden in Sunnyvale is “Mongkok”, a district in Hong Kong that literally means ‘busy corner’. On the flip side, China Village in Albany is “Great Lido.”

“Fu Lam Moon” is a very common name for Chinese restaurants. (They usually aren’t affiliated with each other.) They have diferent names in English though, and even if not, they tend to get transliterated differently. It’s Fu Lam Mum in Mountain View, and Emerald in San Diego.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Chinese Restaurant Names

  1. y’know c,

    i think this has to do with the chinese idea that if you name something a certain way, the place ot person will turn out to be what you named it. (Is this taoism?) I can see how for people this can easily be true. For restaurants, the english name is different perhaps having to do with business where you want to differentiate from your competitors. IT could also be that the business liceince requires an unique name. These are my personal WAGs (Wild-Ass Guesses).

    Scholars of chinese philosophy, please chime in…

    j

  2. y’know c,

    i think this has to do with the chinese idea that if you name something a certain way, the place ot person will turn out to be what you named it. (Is this taoism?) I can see how for people this can easily be true. For restaurants, the english name is different perhaps having to do with business where you want to differentiate from your competitors. IT could also be that the business liceince requires an unique name. These are my personal WAGs (Wild-Ass Guesses).

    Scholars of chinese philosophy, please chime in…

    j

  3. To add an example to your question:
    One of K.S.’s favorite Chinese restaurant in Bangkok (“Hay Lum Moon” in Chinese) is named “RoseLamMoon” in English. Go figure the “Rose” part.

  4. This is a question totally off what is being presented here…sorry. But I was wondering if anyone that knows of Bamboo Gardens in Sunnyvale…can tell me alittle about their food and service. I am trying to do a banquet there and would love to know what anyone thinks of it.

    Thanks.
    -T-

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s