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Spoon and pillow for lunch? Vietnam eatery goes viral with unrivaled English menu

Friday, June 09, 2017, 16:42 GMT+7

A restaurant in the northern Vietnamese province of Yen Bai is treating customers to some of Vietnam’s lesser known delicacies, including ‘spoon’ and the spine-chilling ‘boil half a child’.

A photo collection of the restaurant’s menu, whose food does look tasty, has gone viral for the ridiculously hilarious English names printed on the signage.

According to the menu, the eatery in Yen Bai serves teeth, spoon, pillow, and “banana beans (sic)” for lunch, while the seemingly signature dishes of “finances” and “boil half a child” are not to be missed.


It’s nearly impossible to keep from laughing while perusing the menu.  What can “old, too” possibly be?  Well, without the accompanying illustration you’d probably never guess its carrot and potato soup – a great side dish for the roasted duck cooked in either “turn” or “turn around” style. 


Several of dishes bear grammatically correct English names which, ironically, can cause even more confusion after glancing at the photos. A dish which is obviously beef is named “butter” while a plate of tofu is captioned “snake”.


The photos were first posted by Nguyen Thanh Huy on Facebook before spreading across social media.

Huy said he was guiding a group of international experts from 35 countries on a field study trip in Vietnam on June 2, when they stopped by the eatery for lunch.

“The attendant was happy to give us the menus when one of the foreign experts in my group suddenly burst into laughter, telling everyone we were all going to eat something special,” Huy told VnExpress.

When other members looked at the menu, they all laughed and “the lunch continued in a relaxed atmosphere.”

Huy captured some most sidesplitting dishes on the menu and posted them to Facebook. He also found out that the author of the unique English menu is a Vietnamese friend of the eatery owner.

Interestingly enough, the menu author was introduced as an English teacher.

Huy said he shared the special menu on Facebook as a token of gratitude to the eatery for “bringing so much laughter to everyone exhausted from the working trip.”

 “The menu could have been deliberately written in such an amusing way to intrigue diners,” he said.

“It might be a simple but effective sales trick.  You may laugh or criticize the restaurant for the poor English in their menus, but what matters most is that they sell their food.”

Google Translate fails?

The internet was quick to find reasons for the hilarious menu.

Google Translate was undoubtedly involved, but the platform was not entirely to blame for the failed translation.

In fact, it is more likely that incorrect Vietnamese words were input into Google Translate, leading to an incorrect output, probably thanks to wrongly accented Vietnamese words.

In Vietnamese, a word changes its meaning depending on the accent. The menu author appears to have only entered words without accents into Google Translate, leading to translations of the wrong words.

For example, bo means “butter” if it is written , and “beef/cow” in the case of . Hence the delicious looking dish of beef being labeled “butter” on the menu.


Similarly, the “spoon” dish is in fact “water spinach”, which is rau muống in Vietnamese.  Spoon alone is just muỗng.

The “turn”, “turn around” duck or “finances” are in an ode to how the food is cooked. “Turn duck” should be roasted duck (Vietnamese word quay means “turn” and “roast”).

Tài chính (finance) and tái chín (medium-rare) shows that “finances” in the menu really means medium-rare beefsteak.

Fried tofu was written as “snake” in the menu due to Google Translate mistaking rán (fry) with rắn (snake).

Finally, “boil half a child” means half of a boiled chicken, with con being a unit used for both humans and animals in Vietnamese.

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