kake: The word "菜單" (Chinese for "menu") in various shades of purple. (菜單)
[personal profile] kake

I've mentioned 口 (kǒu/mouth) before, in my post on 四/sì/four. In that post, I was mainly concerned with its use as a radical (of which more below). 口 does appear on menus in its own right, though, perhaps most notably as 口水雞 (kǒu shuǐ jī), or "mouthwatering chicken", a Sichuan cold dish of poached chicken dressed with a spicy sauce. I've also seen 口水兔肉 (kǒu shuǐ tù ròu), which I assume is the same thing but with rabbit (兔/tù) instead of chicken.

Another manifestation of 口 is as 青口 (qīng kǒu), literally "green mouth", which refers to a type of mussel. You might see this as e.g. 豉汁炒青口 (chǐ zhī chǎo qīng kǒu/stirfried mussels in black bean sauce).

I've also seen 口條 (kǒu tiáo), which literally translates to something like "mouth strip" — I think this means "tongue", but it was on a Chinese-only menu, so I don't have an English translation to compare against. The specific dish was 紅油口條 (hóng yóu kǒu tiáo), i.e. 口條 in chilli oil ("red oil").

I admit to remaining somewhat confused by a dish listed on the takeaway menu of Sichuan Restaurant in Acton — in English it's number 132, "fried beef with chilies & peppers", while in Chinese it's 口口香牛肉, which as far as I can tell means something like "mouth mouth fragrant beef". I would dearly love to know what's going on there.

Finally, 口 is used in the transliteration of "Coca-Cola": 可口可樂 (kě kǒu kě lè). You might see this on the drinks (飲料/yǐn liào) section of a menu.

Here are some characters that use 口 as a radical:

dānindividual/list — used in the word 菜單 (cài dān), which means "menu" (and which you may recognise from the icon I use for this series)
pǐnproduct/commodity — often used on menus to indicate the dessert section, as 甜品 (tián pǐn), literally "sweet things"
chīto eat — often used on menus to indicate a "snack" category, as 小吃 (xiǎo chī, literally "small eats") or 小吃類 (xiǎo chī lèi, literally "small eats category")
each/every — sometimes used on menus as 各式 (gè shì) to indicate that an item is available in multiple styles (e.g. red-cooked, with black beans, with XO sauce, etc)
wèiflavour/taste, as in e.g. 怪味兔 (guài wèi tù/"strange-flavour" rabbit)
咕 and 嚕gū and lūused together on menus as 咕嚕 (gū lū) to indicate a sweet-and-sour dish, e.g. 咕嚕肉 (gū lū ròu/sweet-and-sour pork)[see footnote]

Footnote: [0] As [identity profile] sung points out in comments, this is a Cantonese name for this Cantonese dish which is often mistakenly transliterated into Mandarin as 古老肉 (gǔ lǎo ròu/"old-fashioned" pork); for example here. Update, October 2011: see Fuchsia Dunlop's article on sweet and sour pork for more on etymology.

口: kǒu radical 30 (口) Cantodict MandarinTools YellowBridge Zhongwen

If you have any questions or corrections, please leave a comment (here's how) and let me know (or email me at kake@earth.li). See my introductory post to the Chinese menu project for what these posts are all about.


Date: 2011-02-16 11:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eatlovenoodles.blogspot.com
I think the stuff about sweet and sour is wrong. It is never referred to as 古老 when spoken in Cantonese. I had a quick reccie at menus at Pearl Liang and Phoenix Palace and they use 咕嚕 (gū lū in pinyin).

Date: 2011-02-16 11:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eatlovenoodles.blogspot.com
I'm inclined to think it's a mistake in transliteration from Cantonese to Mandarin rather than any culinary variation. The proper name for sweet and sour is 甜酸 tian suan, and 咕嚕 gu lu is a Cantonese 'nickname' for this dish that has become the more common name. Moreover, the 'old fashioned' sweet and sour pork in the link in your original post is classic 咕嚕.

Date: 2011-02-16 03:42 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ex_pinetree696
IIRC, "koutiao" usually refers to a pig's tongue. "Shetou" is the commonly-spoken word for a human tongue, as I'm sure you know.


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