The modal Chinese restaurant

I had lunch at the new Orient Express in Middleton today. On the recommendation of a Chinese-food-loving colleague I ordered the shui zhu yu, or “boiled fish” — not on the menu, but apparently a house specialty. The dish consists of chunks of boneless white fish in a soup that’s about half broth, half oil. That’s too much oil for my taste, so I mostly spooned out the fish — perfectly cooked, moist, salty, and delicious — and ate it over rice. I’ll be back. The ma po to fu, kung pao chicken, and beef chow fun also come recommended by the C-f-l c.

Anyway, the uninventive name of this restaurant made me wonder what the modal Chinese restaurant name is. Google Maps finds 67 Chinese restaurants called “Orient Express.”

But this isn’t even close to the champ, as the following table demonstrates:

Garden Palace Wok Buffet
China 666 241 681 1,335
Peking 215 67 58 47
Szechuan 58 16 8 47
Imperial 97 81 15 30
Jade 297 83 6 21

The Google Maps numbers are somewhat unreliable; the “buffet” column in particular seems to include many places which have a buffet but aren’t actually called “Buffet.” But however you slice it there are a hell of a lot of Chinese restaurants called “China Buffet,” and I invite readers to suggest any other name that offers it serious competition.

Update: One of my Chinese-food informants tells me that you’re in fact not supposed to eat the oily soup.

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5 thoughts on “The modal Chinese restaurant

  1. Scott Carnahan says:

    I suggest adding rows for “Mandarin” and “Dragon”.

  2. JmSR says:

    I remember that month…

    Chin’s Asia Fresh
    China Buffet
    China Inn
    China One Buffet
    China Wok

  3. Tom says:

    “Pearl” needs a column (“China Pearl”: 244).

    “China Delight”: 1,071.

    “Hunan Garden”: 529
    “Hunan Wok”: 536
    “Hunan Palace”: 865
    “Hunan Delight”: 232

  4. JSE says:

    I think you’re using a different search methodology, though: I have Google Maps set to search only in the “Restaurants:Chinese” category; do you? I get 97 for China Delight, 160 for Hunan Garden, 37 for Hunan Palace. We are in agreement, though, that Hunan is a lot more popular than Szechuan; why?

  5. Dirty Davey says:

    re: additional rows, how about “Orient”? It seems popular around here, at least.

    re: Hunan vs. Schechuan… I think in some significant subset of the popular American mind “Szechuan” strongly connotes “hot & spicy”, so from the restaurateur perspective might be a turn-off to potential customers… You want to have “Szechuan” items on the menu, but avoid the implication that you are all-“Szechuan”.

    Whereas “Hunan” to the majority of Americans just means “a part of China” without any particular culinary implications.

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