You need a unicode-enabled browser with chinese fonts installed to see the Chinese in this write-up.
Mandarin Chinese is romanised as pinyin. Chinese character entry would be impossible without tongpoo's Unicode converter

The Chinese used in restaurants has its own peculiarities that the average Westerner has no chance of learning because no textbook or dictionary exists that lists these differences.

Elegant names 美稱 měichēng

Many ingredients have non-dictionary names when appearing in restaurant menus. The names are usually chosen to make the restaurant appear more sophisticated. The number and density of these names increases with the stratum of society from which the restaurant hopes to attract its clientèle.

白果 báiguǒ 'ginko nut' is 銀果 yínguǒ 'silver fruit' (which is the usual Japanese name and the origin of the English word)
豆芽 dòuyá 'bean sprouts' is 銀芽 yínyá 'silver sprouts'
餛飩 húntūn 'wonton' is 雲吞 yúntūn 'swallowing clouds' (an allusion to the appearance of the dumplings in soup)
雞蛋 jīdàn 'hen's egg' is 雞旦 jīdàn 'hen-dawn' (蛋 and 旦 are homophones)
雞腳 jījiǎo 'chicken feet' is 鳯爪 fèngzhuǎ 'phoenix claws'
薑 jiāng 'ginger' becomes 姜 jiāng (a surname that is a homophone)
牛舌 niúshé 'beef tongue' is 牛脷 niúlì (only in Cantonese)
皮蛋 pídàn 'century egg' is 松花 sōnghuā 'pine flowers'
豬肝 zhūgān 'pork liver' is 豬潤 zhūrùn 'pork-smooth' (said to be a Cantonese gambling superstition: 肝 sounds like 乾, and 「輸得乾乾淨淨」 means 'to lose everything'; 潤 on the other hand, means 'to profit')
豬腸 zhūcháng 'pork intestines' or 'chitterlings' are 豬什 zhūshí 'pork-extra' (什 can mean 'ten', 'a group' or 'additional')

Abbreviations 略寫 lüèxiě

When the waiter or waitress takes down the order, numbers on the menu are frequently used. There are also many non-dictionary handwritten abbreviations of common words:
鴨 yà 'duck' is abbreviated as 甲
麵 miàn 'noodles' is 面 (as in simplified Chinese)
蝦 xiá 'prawn' is 下 (compare simplified Chinese 虾)

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.