Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Muddled Box

Noodle Box

As everyone knows, we are short of noodle shops in Liuzhou, so there will be great joy at the news that the latest addition to the city’s culinary delights is this place which has just opened in the pedestrian street area.

However, it is somewhat confusing, if not confused. According to the leaflets they were handing out at the weekend they are from Melbourne – at least, I think that is what they mean. The leaflet reads ‘Melboune’. You’d think if they really were from Melbourne they might have worked out the correct spelling. What is even stranger is their use of the obscure character 砵 in their transliteration of Melbourne (墨尔砵 according to them, rather than the more usual and officially sanctioned 墨尔本.)

Noodle Box 1

In fact their grip on language is just odd. They even get their own name wrong in the Chinese. According to the leaflet and the sign on the shop it is 麵葙, which is meaningless. What they no doubt meant was 麵箱, which, lo and behold, means Noodle Box. Wrong xiāng, guys.

Noodle Box 2

I’m not pointing this out to mock their language skills – god knows I mangle Chinese every day. But this misspelling in two languages (and their habit of switching, apparently at random, from Simple to Traditional characters, from Mandarin to Cantonese, just seems very amateurish to me. I mean if you are setting up a new business, at least get your own name right.

The menu itself, depending on your point of view, is either wonderfully eclectic in its wide range of regional favourites, or another confusing mess. Featuring dishes from Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and that other south east Asian destination, Mongolia.

Again the spelling is all over the place – ‘Stweet’, ‘chichen’, ‘vegei’, ‘vegefarian’ etc.

All that said, the menu does look interesting and I will add the place to my long list of places to try one day – if it lasts that long. Or, if you make it there before I do (highly likely), let me know how it is.

The restaurant is on the second floor of the run down, shabby, curved offshoot to the pedestrian street – up the litter covered, permanently dysfunctional escalators, roughly opposite the seedy night club half way down.

Noodle Box 3Noodle Box 4Noodle Box 5

In fact, I’m willing to bet they are actually from Hong Kong. Not the staff in Liuzhou, but the owners.

UPDATE: 16th August 2013

I got round to visiting the place last night. It looks spotlessly clean and has an open kitchen. The staff were friendly and what I ate was superb. The final menu is somewhat different from the above, but has retained its Chinglish characteristics, although I saw no references to Australian cities. Here it is:

noodle box 6noodle box 7

Unusually, I was without my trusty new restaurant testing partner who is away on business so it was just me. I ate number 10 and it was lovely. Fresh crisp vegetables, a true Thai taste and lots of juicy chicken meat. Other dishes being served to the few customers looked equally good.

A little English is spoken but isn’t really required. The menu hangs on the wall with its photos and English explanation. and they will probably also give you a leaflet. Just point and shoot.

The few items which haven’t been translated are snacks: 

中华海草 – Chinese Seaweed
八爪鱼 – Octopus
墨鱼仔 – Cuttlefish
付味螺肉 – Snail
带子裙 – Scallop Skirt

The place is highly recommended.

UPDATE 2:  26th August 2013

In the latest twist in the bizarre behaviour of this place, one week after opening, it is closed. A sign on their door says they were just “testing the business” and are no longer open. This, I’m told, doesn’t mean that it has closed down,but just that it isn’t open yet.

They don’t seem to have a clue what they are doing. Shame.

UPDATE 3: 31st August 2013

It transpires that Noodle Box is a long established franchise chain centred on Melbourne. I am guessing that the people behind Liuzhou’s venture are perhaps ex-franchisees who have taken the name and some of the menu from the franchise operation. The first leaflet is almost exactly a copy of the chain’s online menu. The cut down menu in the restaurant (when it was open) stripped out some dishes they probably couldn’t source the ingredients for.

Odder and odder!

Update 4: 28th September 2013

Damn! They are open again. How long for is anyone’s guess. An outfit this amateurish surely can’t last. They have managed to correct their Chinese name and erected a they now claim to be a Hong Kong style restaurant (港式餐厅). It isn’t really. It’s the style of a SE Asian Noodle restaurant such as may be found in Hong Kong, which isn’t the same thing.


Update 5 – November 24th 2013

I went back last night and ordered the same dish I had first time. It was awful. Tasteless and greasy. The first time, it was cooked by the owner and was excellent. Last night, it was cooked by someone I’d never seen before. The owners weren’t there. I won’t be returning.

Update 6 – January 5th 2014

The idiots running Noodle Box have closed the place again!

The history of this place has been a total farce – opening then closing and reopening every other week.

The have hung this sign in the window. It reads “内部装修“, which means “interior decoration”

Sheer stupidity and incompetence more likely.

. This entry was posted on Monday, July 22nd, 2013 at 1:29 pm and is filed under Chinglish, Food and Drink, Restaurants, Stupidity. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

4 Responses to “Muddled Box”

  1. Tony Masiello Says:

    Is that the curved offshoot that cuts the corner where McDonald’s is? I went there many times during my three week stay last Nov, and other than some construction in one spot and the escalators being hit or miss, did not find it run down. Had a couple of good meals up there, and my daughter liked the DYI cake place as well as the kids playground place…

    Those kind of language mistakes (at least on the English side) are common at Chinese restaurants here in the states. Generally, any restaurant that advertises itself as Chinese plus anything else (usually Japanese and/or Thai) is a red flag and my wife avoids them.

  2. Liuzhou Laowai Says:

    That offshoot was the original pedestrian street long before the main street was pedestrianised. It now runs from the small clock tower and the standalone McDonald’s ice cream kiosk, just south of Soho bar, then round in a curve till it comes out near the Islamic restaurant building.

    Many of the shops are empty, the place is run down and filthy. The night club is a notorious, seedy dive (full of whores and thieves). Always has been.

    The food place with the kid’s playground is popular but pretty hit and miss in quality. I’ve had barely OK meals there, but also some real horror stories. I haven’t been back since, about four years ago, I saw about six huge rats running around the kitchen while the staff stood laughing.

    I wouldn’t be knocking this new place’s mistakes in English if they were honest and didn’t pretend to be Australian, which they clearly aren’t. Then when they start making mistakes in their own language you have to wonder how professional they are.

  3. Ray Says:

    i want to try 01,02,11….which i had them weekly in Singapore.

  4. Liuzhou Laowai Says:

    These two comments were left on the update notice rather than here, where they are more useful.

    Jim Mahler Says:
    August 16th, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    I went there just after seeing your original post. I thought the food was good if a little pricey. I talked a bit to the owner’s wife — she said she is from Hong Kong via 20+ years in Australia, which might account for some of the strange spellings. At the time, she and her husband only planned to be in LZ a month or so, to get the business going, and then head back to Australia.

    Liuzhou Laowai Says:
    August 16th, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Yeah, I spoke to the the owner guy. Very friendly. I was right in identifying them as being from HK.

    The pricing is a bit high for noodles, but it isn’t exactly your average noodle shack. Prices are similar to other places such as the pseudo Japanese place (Ajimen) at the end of the mall, but the food much better, I thought. Ajimen is packed out every night. But then, so is Pizza Hut!

    I’m not sure how the locals will take to this new place. Perhaps their promotion should have emphasised their SE Asia style a bit more.

    But I’ll be going back.

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