I Decided to Learn to Read Menus

Going to restaurants in US is a big problem for me, as I mentioned in this blog: Finally Get into Buck’s Restaurant. GN and I had some nice conversation below it, and it is not a surprise that people cannot realize how hard menu is for foreigners, like English menu for Chinese, or Chinese menu for French…

For example, this section is quoted from Buck’s Restaurant’s menu:

Filoli garden omelette 10.50

(Wild mushrooms, onion, zucchini, tomatoes)

Filoli garden Nearly Non-Fat omelette 10.50

(Cholesterol-free eggs, wild mushrooms,

onion, zucchini, tomatoes)

Devine’s omelette 10.50

(Bacon, tomatoes, onions, cheese, sour cream)

Woodsider omelette 10.50

(Artichoke hearts, avocado, wild mushrooms,

tomato, Jack cheese)

Ham & cheese omelette 10.50

(Diced ham, Cheddar cheese)

I don’t – currently, still don’t – understand what these words:

Filoli – what is this?

Should I read it as (Filoli garden) (omelette), or (Filoli) (garden omelette)?

What is omelette?

Among “(Wild mushrooms, onion, zucchini, tomatoes)”, I only recognize mushrooms, and tomatoes. What is onion, and zucchini?

Actually, it is pretty simple to understand what they are just by spending some time. So I have made a decision to learn the menus, and to understand what everything is before my next US trip.

13 thoughts on “I Decided to Learn to Read Menus

  1. On U.S. menus, don’t pay attention to the capitalized words because they usually have nothing to do with the dish.

    For example: “Sarah’s fries” or “Devine’s omelette”

  2. Good for you Jian Shuo for taking the initiative to learn!

    It took me a while, in fact I’d say more than 5 years, to truly appreciate the flavor and awesomeness of cuisines from countries and cultures other than China. How can one learn and understand a culture without tasting its food and understand some food lingoes :)

  3. 蔥 is actually ‘green onions’, not the same as what’s on the menu.

    洋蔥 is what we call onions in America. It’s white/yellow color, about the same size as an apple, and is made up of different layers wrapped around each other. If you cut it, the smell will make you cry, and it comes shaped like rings. It has a very strong taste and makes your breath smell, but delicious. Good in salads, but in America we also like to deep fry them in batter. Mmm!

  4. Paul, that’s a *great* description of an onion!

    I’ve been traveling outside the US for the past three weeks, and fully understand the intriguing difficulties of reading a foreign menu. Even some of the well-meaning translations, intended to clarify things for English readers, are both confusing and amusing.

    One thing I had never eaten before that we greatly enjoyed in Norway was Reindeer! Once I got over the feeling that I was feasting on Rudolph, it was really very delicious.

    Some of my best overseas dining experiences have happened when I just took a wild guess based on price of an item and general category it seemed to be in and said “I’ll try this!”

    Jian Shuo, congratulations on having eaten at Bucks!! I’m sure you were told about all the movers and shakers who have eaten there, and the venture capitalists who still do. Many great business deals and ideas have been sketched out on paper napkins at Bucks :-)

  5. Omelette is 煎蛋饼, which is quite similar as 煎饼果子’s 饼,but made by egg. If the stuffing is sliced chicken, it’s called chicken omeletter. If the stuffing is cheese, it will be called cheese omeletter then. Quite nice a stuff. Have a try if you like fried eggs.

    Onion is definitely 洋葱

    Spring onion is 葱,often seen in China.

    Fries are chips. Sarah’s fries are something like 本店招牌薯条

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