Tuesday, February 09, 2016


The mall across the street finally opened (after sitting vacant for what we've been told has been six years). One of the restaurants has a Chinese name and a Korean name. The Chinese name is Quan Wei, which means "Powerful Flavor." It has a subtitle of sorts. When I put each word in my translator app, I found it means "Stone Bowl Bibimbap."

I thought my app was having problems. What in the world is "bibimbap"? That's not an English word. But it turns out it's a Korean dish that Wikipedia says has been voted one of the world's 50 most delicious foods.

The first time I went there, the only problem I had was when I needed to get it to go. Every other casual dining restaurant asks us if we want to dine in or carry out. This place doesn't. I said, "Wai mai," which means "takeout food," but since 90% of the people we encounter cannot understand anyone with even the slightest hint of an accent, that meant nothing to the cashier. When I pantomimed walking out of the store with a bowl, she eventually got the picture.

The next time I went there, I tried to order the same thing I got before. The cashier said, "Meiyou," which means, "We don't have that." She then pointed, on a menu of at least 30 items, to two items. That was the extent of their menu today?! She also didn't understand "wai mai," but as an added complication, she didn't understand my pantomime either. The manager saw me standing waiting for my food and told me to go get a seat. I told him "wai mai." He had no idea what I meant. I pantomimed leaving with food and he thought that meant I was in a hurry, so they jumped me to the front of the line and gave me a tray of food to eat there. When they finally understood what I wanted, they were indignant that I wasn't staying. Instead of giving me the hot sauce packet to add as I saw fit, they added it in the takeout bowl.

It's not like I'm asking for something they can't do. They are completely equipped with takeout bowls and bags and everything. Why can't they understand that I want takeout?!

But the food is delicious, so I keep going back. Most recently I made my wife go with me so they wouldn't be as mean to me. They still didn't have what I wanted. But this time I got something that translates as "Hot flavor chicken leg meat bibimbap." Personally, I prefer the alternative translation of "vicious or ruthless flavor chicken."

1 comment:

Alanna said...

This reminds me of my first trip to McDonald's in Japan. I had no idea how to say "take out" in Japanese, so I ended up trying to explain it to the cashier in my still terrible Japanese. I think what I said would roughly translate to, "For the benefit of leaving?" (That makes a little more sense in Japanese. But not much.) The cashier blinked once, and then said rather hesitantly, "Take out-o?" to which I nodded and said, "Hai! Take out-o!"