How Not to Name a Restaurant

I recently learned about a restaurant named Watercress Asian Bistro.  While I have not eaten there, its name alone raises warning flags.

Let’s break it down:

Word in Name

What They Want It To Mean

What It Probably Means


We serve light, healthy food, filled with fresh ingredients.

The food is bland because we don’t how to season it.  And don’t count on it being healthy because we cook everything in oil except the salads, which are made with iceberg lettuce.


We choose from the best of the cuisines of China, Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

We’re not really good at cooking any one cuisine, so we pick a few well-known dishes from each and Americanize them by loading them up with salt and sweeteners.


A fun, casual place, suitable for a lunch with friends or a nice dinner date.

We hired our waitstaff from Applebee’s and we serve wine out of a box.

If this seems like idle speculation, check out what today’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer has to say about a similarly-named-but-probably-entirely-unrelated restaurant:

Cilantro Asian Cuisine, with the third-highest number of red violations this year, was closed in May after "cockroaches were found crawling on cooked vegetables that were stored on a shelf," according to the inspection report.

The inspector also found shrimp stored in used containers and stacked with the bottom of the containers on the shrimp in the container below, a non-functioning oven hood and a dishwasher that wasn’t sanitizing the dishes.

That was one of three inspections in which the health department found serious problems at Cilantro. Other problems included "raw fish on top of cans of soda," "dried blood on the floor" and a customer complaining of a cockroach in his or her takeout.

For contrast in both name and cuisine, consider the estimable Malay Salay Hut.


2 responses to “How Not to Name a Restaurant

  1. "Cilantro" and "Watercress" both connote to me "watery, poorly rinsed, explosive diarrhea probable with 24 hours of dining here."  But, hey, I\’m no restaurant-naming consultancy — what do I know?

  2. Chalk this one up to truth in advertising: "A Taste of Greece."

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