I did a lot of thinking over the last week.
All this was sparked off by the long comment that Dyn made which I made it into a blog post called Why Do Whites Accept Japanese and Thai Cuisine Over Other Cuisine. I posted it because it was controversial and thought our readers would love to read of it. However, little did I expect that Dyn’s notes sparked off a series of very long, thought provoking comments from other readers.
That got me thinking over a few comments made regarding bad translations in Chinese Menu that puts off diners who are not familiar with the cuisine. So I did some more research on the internet and in one discussion forum, there was a discussion how a western menu differs from a Chinese one.
In western menu, the dishes often describes the ingredients and the way it is prepared.
On the other hand, with Chinese dishes, you will not always be able to picture the dish if you are not familiar with it. Traditionally, many Chinese dishes have a 4-word (syllable) names and some of the names have no relevance to the dish. Sometimes they even sound poetic when spoken.
Anyway, Suanne and I thought that over the weekend we just go and check out two funny sounding menu items that we know of. These are from our past restaurant visits that our readers had pointed out which we did not realize. The plan was just to go into these restaurants and order just this ONE item and do a review of them.
Suanne was kind of “mm hoe yee see” going in and ordering one item for the two of us. Taking pictures in a restaurant already catches attention but going in and ordering ONE specific dish, taking pictures and then leave quickly sure got the attention of the restaurant. But that is what we did.
Here is what we tried:
Dead Man Coffin from Sunway Restaurant
Anyone has any idea why this is called the Dead Man’s Coffin? I can only guess it is because it is … shaped like a coffin with a lid on it. No, Chinese coffins are not square if you are thinking that. Traditional Chinese coffins looks like this if you are curious.
|Dead Man’s Coffin is actually a very tall piece of deep fried toast filled with seafood in creamy sauce. The bread is deep fried and hollowed out for the fillings.|
|#1: The first item to eat is the coffin lid. It is thin and amazingly crispy.|
|#2: The seafood filling includes imitation crab, prawns and mussels. I am quite surprised that this is only $6 considering the work put into making this and the ingredients too.|
|#3: Next is the creamy soup which has onions. We appreciate the fact that it is not too rich and thick.|
|#4: And once the coffin lid and the coffin ingredients are done, we devoured the rest of the coffin. The coffin is slightly different from the coffin lid. While the coffin lid is dry and crispy, the coffin proper soaks up a bit of the soup giving it a very nice balance of crispiness and moist with contrasting flavours.|
We had never heard of the Dead Man’s Coffin before, let alone eaten it until now. But this is one dish worth checking out. It is fun and tastes great to. Here is the link to the write up of our previous visit to the Sunway Restaurant.
Wild Speculation Beef Salamander from Bushuair Restaurant
Earlier to going to Sunway, we went to the Aroma Garden to try the Wild Speculation Beef Salamander. We went in and was surprised that it is no longer the place we remember it. Instead, everyone was having hot pot!
We asked the waitress who told us that they had moved to the strip mall where Hon’s is on No 3 Road. She passed us a card saying it is just 5 minutes walk. But the new restaurant is no longer called Aroma Garden but it is now known as Bushuair Restaurant.
Walking into Bushuair, we can immediately confirm that it is the same restaurant with a different name as Aroma Garden … which in turn used to be called Gordon Park! There were these unmistakable portraits (portraits, not portrait!) of Mao in the restaurant and also the same octagonal lanterns we saw the last time we were in Aroma Garden.
What really piqued my curiosity is why they changed their name so many times when Gordon Park was already establishing a name for itself as a good restaurant in Richmond.
Bushuair is located at the same location where the Harvest Moon Szechuan Restaurant used to be. The picture menu at Bushuair is 100% identical with Aroma Garden from what I can see. Good thing is that they still serve the mysterious Wild Speculation Beef Salamander which was the reason of our visit.
Our waitress did not even bat an eyelid when we said we wanted one dish with one bowl of rice. So, this is it … the Wild Speculation Beef Salamander!
Can anyone help with the translation here? Any idea how the Chinese name gets translated to Wild Speculation Beef Salamander?
Anyway, this dish is for the brave. It is super, super hot! All caused by these pickled chili peppers.
Look at it … they even have the seeds in it. This is not a dish for everyone. It is not choking kind of spiciness but it brings numbing, throbbing heat on the lips and tongue. Suanne said she can even feel the heat down to her stomach. We did not even finish half of this dish as we could not stand the heat anymore. To add to it, drinking hot tea will sear your tongue and lips more.
But did we like the pain this dish brings? He he he … yes, we did. But we should have other dishes to balance out the heat. Having just this with steamed rice is not a good idea.
So, there you go … two of of the funny named dishes we know in Richmond. Let us know if you know of any local dishes that came into your mind. We might just make a visit to check them out.
And More …
I want to leave a few interesting links for you that I found in the course of writing this post:
- Crazy Chinese Food – a video
- May I Take Your Order – a comprehensive list of wacky menu
- Chinese Dishes With Proper Translation – a huge list; I wonder if this is the list of approved translations that the Chinese government enforced prior to the Beijing Olympics.
- How To Order Chinese Food – a nice guide for those who wants to learn cuisine of the Middle Kingdom