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Sep 21, 2013 11:01 AM

Cryptic Food Menus

I'm looking for examples of cryptic food menus. I mean those that describe dishes poetically, or just list the ingredients, or include only dish titles etc. Anything that makes a menu hard to decipher, for better or for worse.

I'd welcome any contributions: links to restaurant websites, images/photos of menus, reviews, personal anecdotes etc.

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      1. re: ferret

        squab inspired by miro
        scallops "acting like" something else….

        1. re: alkapal

          The scallop dish is pretty amazing.

      2. The same way I might have no idea what Buddha Jumps Over the Wall is, there are plenty of others who don't know the purpose of the three preceding adjectives of Nueske's Applewood Smoked Bacon, or what the contents of a Waldorf Salad are.

        Merely not knowing the language could make it a cryptic menu too, but that's also a horse of a different color.

        Then there's Engrish, but that's not an uncommon plot device on CH..."sauce sub-volume" anyone?


        12 Replies
        1. re: BuildingMyBento

          I agree, is a treasure trove of mysterious menus.

          1. re: thingmaker

            I have previously mentioned dining in Beijing and looking at a menu featuring lurk.

            There is a vegan restaurant in San Francisco, Café Gratitude, where all the menu items were titled things like "I am Grateful".

            I think it's actually a chain of restaurants because they were in my local Whole Foods for a while.

            1. re: 512window

              There are several locations of cafe gratitude, but all on the west coast- here's the menu from LA, when ordering you seriously tell them you're ordering the "i am generous"......

              1. re: Ttrockwood

                Isn't there a vegan chain called Loving Hut started either in Vietnam or the RoK?

                1. re: BuildingMyBento

                  Yes there is, actually they have a location in nyc and another on long island. Not nearly as good as cafe gratitude and some pretty ordinary menu names...

              2. re: 512window

                "I am leaving." Gawd I despise that place. Everything about it. Take a WHOLE lot to make me say that, but if arson was illegal I'd burn 'em all down. Ugh.

                1. re: mamachef

                  How about "I am zonked out since I have imbibed the Kool-Aid and..."

            2. re: BuildingMyBento

              there is a thai place i frequent and one of their most popular dishes in the "evil jungle princess" - technically i still don't know what it is but it tastes like chicken, veggies and a spicy peanutty sauce.

              1. re: pie22

                keo's "evil jungle prince" ! IF you decide to make it, then be prepared for a big hit of searing pepper fumes to get caught in your throat as you start cooking the first aromatics in the hot oil. BUT it is worth it. we made the veggie version (see below at ***).

                (don't know about the "princess" LOL). i did find a recipe for "princess" but i believe it is a take-off on keo's creation.
                *** EDIT:
                from keo's cookbook:

                evil jungle prince with mixed vegetables

                ½ # mixed veggies, sliced into thin strips (pick as many as you like -- bell peppers, string beans, water chestnuts, tomatoes, bamboo shoots, miniature corn, asparagus, cucumbers, zucchini, mushrooms).
                6 small red chili peppers
                ½ stalk fresh lemon grass
                2 kaffir lime leaves
                2T oil
                ½ C coconut milk
                ¼ t salt
                10-15 sweet basil leaves
                1 C chopped cabbage

                grind the aromatics and then sauté in oil over med high heat for 3 minutes. (warning about fumes!).
                add the coconut milk, stir and cook 2 minutes
                add veggies and cook 5 minutes more
                drop heat to low, add basil and salt. serve on the chopped cabbage. (we also had rice).

                this dish is really delicious! -- esp. if you have some veggie cravings.

                1. re: alkapal

                  this is it!
                  i mixed it up between the chicken and tofu versions and it was delicious!
                  i am def making this - thanks!

                  1. re: pie22

                    have fun! it is really quite easy. we used a deep pot like you cook pasta in -- it helped contain some oil splatter from the initial hot frying.

                    before you start, be sure your vent is running.
                    as soon as you put in the aromatics, do a quickie stir to distribute them and immediately step away. do not stand over the pot (or put your face over it)!

                    those fumes will make you choke.

              2. Here's an entire menu of idiomatic dish names & descriptions that got translated literally by a computer program, with hilarious results.


                2 Replies
                1. re: eclecticsynergy

                  mmm i want me a big bowl of flavor pig livings bowel!

                  1. re: alkapal

                    Only with lots of ketchup, please !

                2. re: my post last night

                  I've put this link up before and one poster felt I was ridiculing whoever had the unenviable task of translating the menu into coherent English.

                  I do hope most folks will be able to appreciate the intrinsic humor in surreal dish names like "Carbon Burns Fresh Particularly Must" or "Big Bowl Immerse Miscellaneous Germ" or "Man Fruit Braise The North Almond" without reading any racism or insult into my posting the link.

                  There's a banquet of unintentional hilarity over there and some of the blogger's comments are pretty humorous too. Please accept the spirit of good-natured bemusement in which it was offered- nothing ugly was intended.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: eclecticsynergy

                    I will be laughing at F*ck the salt for weeks.

                  2. Atelier Crenn (2 Michelin-star in SF) is pretty good at cryptic + poetic:


                    3 Replies
                    1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                      Oh, that kind of thing is so, so, so, not me.

                      All power to everyone who loves it but it's just a whole lot too precious for my taste!

                      1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                        very cryptic, because on the pdf age of the menu there is only the name and some graphic images!

                        1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                          why do I feel like I should be hunting for Easter basket between courses?