Everybody born before 1955 has heard about the cat named “Dog”; and weird as it may sound, I once lived with a monkey named “Moose”. But I’ll bet there are very few of my readers that have eaten at a restaurant called “My Dung”. As a kid, travelling along America’s legendary Route 66 disguised as a seven-year-old, I would find myself entranced by the variety of strange, roadside attractions, including diners and cafes that promised hot beer and lousy food. Many of these places had weird and memorable names that entered into my own personal mythology of the road – joints like Moody’s White Kitchen and The Cracked Pot.
Over a lifetime I collected a list of the most unbelievable and bizarre place-names, mostly cafes, diners and drive-ins. Most of these places are lost to the mists of time, but some of them are still alive and kicking, and they continue to provide a prime attraction for customers who will always remember that they have eaten at “My dung”.
Here’s my personal Top 10:
1. Pu Pu Hot Pot
Main street Cambridge MA: Fancy eating a meal in the Pu Pu hot pot! And then telling your friends about it! Although people would rather be caught dead than be seen eating in a place called Pu Pu, the food is both authentic and excellent. A Pu Pu Platter is a tray American Chinese cuisine consisting of an assortment of small meat and seafood appetizers. It specializes in home-style Mandarin-Szechuan Chinese cooking inspired by Shanghai with a Taiwanese emphasis.
2. My Dung
Rosemead LA: They make a special meal especially for you. You are what you eat would be a barrel of laughs to anyone with a sense of humour in this case. “Where are you headed? I’m going to eat my dung.” However, Mỹ Dung is a Vietnamese title (pronounced Mee-yung or Mee-zung depending on the dialect). It means “Beautiful Countenance” and is a popular female name, whatever people might perceive. They serve Asian and Korean cuisine, and dung is I assure you, off the menu.
3. Bung Hole
London UK: This place is presented as being mainly a wine bar in London. The name “Bunghole” says it all. It is derived from the hole in the side of a wine cask in which the bung is put. The simply furnished street-level bar on High Holborn might not look like much, but the Bunghole’s real draw is its sprawling dining room in the cellars below in which you can dine on candlelit wooden tables on sawdust floors. It offers a Grill Room Menu with traditional English fayre daily, with a selection of hot and cold bar snacks available throughout the day.
4. Butty Boys
London UK: Butty Boys is a sandwich bar with an extremely friendly staff and a limited and somewhat overpriced menu. But the location of the restaurant is ideal to keep it going in Bloomsbury, London. Corporate deliveries, event catering, franchise business, you name it! You will hear no ifs and butts from the butty folks who will butt their way in and satisfy your stomachs.
5. Hung Far Low
Portland OR: This restaurant is named after its cool signboard which was very near the ground and tricked quite a few tourists that there was still a Chinatown in downtown Portland. The dining place has a lot of history in Portland being around 30 years old. It serves as reminder of the extremely varied ethnic mix that makes up the American West and the locals love to visit it for fried shrimps, chicken soup and fresh pork fried rice with peas and bean sprouts.
6. Phat Phuc Noodle Bar
London UK: I would never forget it if I had eaten in a place called the phat phuc noodle bar. Good for the owners I guess. Despite the strange name, Phat Phuc actually translates in Vietnamese as Happy Buddha. The restaurant itself is based in a beautiful courtyard right in the heart of Chelsea in Central London. The founders brought the authentic street stalls over from Saigon and with it the Southern Vietnamese specialty dishes of Pho noodle soup and have extended the range of dishes to suit their customers.
7. The Chocolate Log
Daramsala INDIA: The name of this place is probably derived from a dessert of some kind, although it would be yummy to take it in the literal sense. The Chocolate Log offers fabulous chocolate desserts, freshly baked cakes, hot coffee and a selection of wine and a small raised patio shaded by some beautiful trees. It has no menu. You only get what you see and you see what they bake and put on display. It is located at Jogibara Rd, City Center in Mcleod Ganj.
8. Young Dong
Arcadia CA: Alliteration is pretty thoroughly practiced in this name with three Gs. I have yet to get to the bottom of the name though. Young Dong Garden is a Korean restaurant with a button at every table that is used to call waiters. Pricey but satisfying for Korean food lovers, it also provides melon gum to customers after a meal. It is conveniently located on Huntington Drive. The food is excellent and fresh cooked, and the service is okay with no problems.
9. Soon Fatt
Bray, Co Wicklow, Ireland: Located on Dublin Road Ireland I am sure this printing on the board is not a prediction of what will happen after you eat the offered food but has some deep Chinese meaning to it. I hope. Or obese people might find something else to blame besides all the portions they devour in a day. The delightful takeaway serves a wide range of classic and modern Chinese dishes, specializing in Roast Duck with Bean sprout in BBQ Sauce.
10. Big Wong
New York USA: One has got to hand it to the Chinese! One does not understand the language or the names, but is still attracted to the food they eat. This is a Chinese restaurant in New York. It has a decent environment and food although amusingly, one might be asked to share tables with strangers sometimes. You can, of course, say no to the Big Wong King in that case, whoever or whatever that is.