Tim Ho Wan

My husband and I recently started calling Tim Ho Wan “Tim Mo’ Fun” as that was the best of the silly names he came up with when trying to remember (or pretending to try to remember) the actual name of this cheap Michelin-starred restaurant. “Tim So Fun” is a pretty good fake name, too.

About half the time, I misremember the name as Tim Wo Han. Today when I ate there, however, I noticed that the Cantonese word “ho” in the name corresponds to the familiar character meaning “good”, which I know is pronounced “hao” in Mandarin, so I should be able to remember the whole thing the right way around next time.

The name, as far as I can tell, is pronounced “tiān hǎo yùn” in Mandarin and means something like “add good luck”.

Speaking of luck, I hear that New York just got its first Tim Ho Wan outlet in December 2016, and that people are going nuts over the food! As well they should. Personally, I feel lucky that I don’t have to wait outside in New York winter weather to eat at Tim Mo’ Fun. Consistently balmy Singapore has several Tim Ho Wans, and if you feel cold while waiting in line at one, it’s not because of the weather, it’s because of the aircon.

The pork BBQ buns, one of what they call the Big Four Heavenly Kings (the dishes printed on the promotional tissue packet above), are the best thing on the menu, but there are many delicious dim sum items available.

Healthy yet delicious Korean food

Whoops! The sign in front of this shop in the basement of United Square is implying that healthy Korean food is usually not delicious. I mean, okay, maybe, but that’s not what you want people to be thinking when they’re standing in front of your Korean restaurant at lunchtime.

What if they used “and” instead?

Healthy and delicious Korean food

Well, now it almost sounds as if they’re offering two different kinds of food, healthy Korean food and delicious Korean food, which still implies that “healthy” and “delicious” are incompatible.

They should just put the two problem adjectives in front of Korean with just a comma:

Healthy, delicious Korean food

The reverse order sounds okay too:

Delicious, healthy Korean food

Sakura Cuisine’s Saliva Chicken

I posted a photo of this restaurant before because the name seemingly advertised so many kinds of food. They’ve simplified the name—presumably not because they saw my blog post, but who knows?

Now they are promoting a dish they call “Saliva Chicken”.

The Chinese name of the dish is three characters (that’s the traditional one for chicken, not the simplified one):

mouth water chicken

Note that there is no sure-fire way to determine how many characters in Chinese correspond to a “word” in English. If you take the first two characters together, they mean “saliva”, because that’s what “mouth water” is.


The restaurant seems to be offering a chicken dish cooked with saliva (?!), but actually it just wants you to order the chicken dish that makes you salivate. If they’d named it “mouth-watering chicken” in English, the name would have been perfectly unobjectionable.

In my opinion, the problem is not that the Chinese language is hard, or that English is hard, just that translation is hard. All languages assign meanings in arbitrary ways. Why, after all, should we English speakers think that “saliva chicken” sounds gross, but “mouth-watering chicken” sounds delicious? This distinction is not meaningful in Chinese, any more than the distinction between “cow meat” (eew) and “beef” (yum).

Signatrer Dishes

Well, the photo is gorgeous, and the restaurant should definitely get credit for correctly pluralizing “dishes”, but that is not how to spell “signature”.

I think the mistake is a phonetic spelling mistake and not a manual typo. The consonant combination “tr” often sounds like “ch” (listen to yourself saying “treasure” or “train”), so I can imagine someone coming up with this by trying to spell what the word sounds like. The “tu” spelling pattern found in words like “nature/natural”, “picture”, and “adventure” is not all that common.

I took this photo outside a restaurant on Mosque Street in Chinatown. I think the restaurant was Chong Qing Grilled Fish. These onions are probably for flavoring the grilled fish.

In one corner of the menu were a bunch of Chinese characters and the English brand “Classical aftertaste”. I think “Classical flavor” was probably more like what they were aiming for. Or “Classic taste”, maybe.

Toast Box… I like

Dear Starbucks,

We need to talk.

I’ve been buying your expensive but delicious lattes since they were S$6.10. I stayed with you when you increased the price. In the scheme of things, an increase of a dime seemed reasonable.

But last month, on the 14th of October, I walked in and what did I find? You’d started celebrating Christmas. In mid-October. That’s not okay with me.

Then, to add injury to insult, when I paid for my drink, I found you’d increased the price of my latte. It was no longer S$6.20. Nor was the price increase just a dime.

We’ve been together a long time, but S$6.40 seems like too much for me to pay for my coffee.

I enjoyed that last coffee, though it seemed more bittersweet than usual. Then, as you know, I took some time to think. And I’ve decided to start buying my coffee elsewhere.

There are a lot of other coffee shops out there, you know? It’s not like I even have to go out of my way. It’s time for me to try something new. A coffee shop that doesn’t jump the gun on holidays or ask too much from me.

I have no doubt that others will still be lining up to buy your coffee, and I wish you all the best.

The newest fan of Toast Box

Indocafe Coffeemix

This is the advertisement on the back of the JetStar inflight magazine.

Some people would never drink instant coffee at any time, but I am fairly confident that even people who really like instant coffee would never drink it while inline skating.

Congratulations, nameless graphic designer. The ad is certainly eye-catching. Baffling, but also definitely eye-catching.

Longing for longans

This is a box of longan fruit. The longan is a kind of fruit related to lychee and rambutan. The text on the box says:

Fresh Longan
Longing for longans… grab a handful of this sweet, fleshy fruit and enjoy it’s exotic taste!

The box contains some truly tasty fruit, but it’s a shame that its punctuation is rotten.