I am amused at the bold use of the name “Wooo-Laaa-Laaa” at this restaurant in a Shanghai mall:

Restaurant signs in 龙之梦
That’s “TEA & COCKTAILS” along the bottom. (There’s totally a “TAILS” there….)
Restaurant signs in 龙之梦
Wow, those are some large red Chinese characters!

The Chinese name is 吴辣辣 (Wú Là Là), and while 吴 may be the surname of the owner (or maybe not), and 辣 clearly leads one to expect spicy food here, they really wanted to do the (French?) “woo-la-la” thing with the restaurant name, which is an interesting choice!

I noticed a similarly bold and informal name at this restaurant called 蛙来哒 (Wā Lái Dā). The 蛙 refers to the bullfrog meat served there, but since 蛙来哒 sounds like 外来的 (wàilái de), which could potentially refer to alien visitors, the restaurant apparently took that theme and ran with it.

Restaurant signs in 龙之梦
Positions that the restaurant is hiring for on the left, a photo of the food on the right
Restaurant signs in 龙之梦

But the character 哒 (dā) is quite informal, becoming popular only in the past 10-20 years. It’s sort of a “contraction” of 的 and 啊, and has been widely used online as part of the cutesy phrase 么么哒 (me me dā), sort of like the “mwah” kissy noise.

So these two restaurant names are quite a departure from the normal types of Chinese restaurant names you see in a mall. It’s fun to see this kind of thing.

Anyway, with the way the food and beverage industry in Shanghai was brutalized by the lockdown and other super-strict covid preventative measures this year, it’s good to see new restaurants appearing again.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

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