Ordering food in China can be tricky if you don’t speak or read Chinese, leading to many a frustrated expat staring into an unanticipated plate of chopped chicken feet. When I first moved to Beijing in 2005, my Chinese was a bit more limited, which led to a limited set of dishes I could order. I once thought I would be safe when ordering 牛肉面 (beef noodles) from a menu, thinking I would get a plate of noodles and beef. What I was actually presented with was what is now infamously known to my friends and family as “Fear Factor soup,” – a giant metal bowl with piles of spicy peppers floating ominously on top.
Luckily for the non-Chinese speaking restaurant goer, many places now offer English translations on their menus. Unluckily for the English-speaking restaurant goer, these translations may need translating as well. Sometimes fanciful, often nonsensical and occasionally vulgar, mistranslations are never more glorious than when found on a menu. I’ve assembled quite a collection over the years, but a choice gem at dinner over the weekend inspired me to share them. Bon Appétit!