Lucky eating you

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Sign at a shop in Changzhou, Jiangsu, specifically at the Computer City mall:

Hěn xìngyùn chī dào nǐ


Google Translate: "Lucky to eat you."  [VHM:  not bad!]

The English on the sign is actually a fair representation of what the Chinese says.  Perhaps "Nice to eat you" or "Nice eating you" would work too.

While I think almost everyone who reads only the English would find it hard to grasp, all Chinese to whom I showed this sign had no difficulty understanding what it meant.  They agreed that both the Chinese and the English are weird, but they immediately comprehended that "nǐ 你" ("you") refers to the food served in this restaurant.  In other words, after wandering around this mall looking for a place to eat some interesting, good food, I'm fortunate to have ended up here to eat the food at this restaurant.

The verb chī 吃 ("eat") has some special nuances in current Mandarin that may also be operative in this shop name.  In daily conversation, "chī zhǔn nǐ 吃准你" and "chī dìng nǐ 吃定你“ both mean "I got you [for sure] / I'll definitely win you over / I won't let you go".

A boyfriend can tell his girlfriend, "Wǒ chī dìng nǐ le 我吃定你了 / Wǒ chī zhǔn nǐ le 我吃准你了” meaning "[I have you in my sights and] you are mine [now]".  In a chess game, a man can say to his opponent, “Nǐ bèi wǒ chī dìng le 你被我吃定了” ("I've got the situation totally under control / I will definitely win over you."  So I guess under these circumstances, it might also be thought of as a kind of teasing.

My Chinese respondents agree that, though comprehensible, both the Chinese and the English are bizarre, probably intentionally so to attract the attention of potential customers

The above photograph is the last of eleven included in this article:

"No Logic at Computer City", by richristow, on his blog Real Changzhou (12/27/20)

A number of the other photographs feature strange aspects of this cockamamie mall, such as elevators that go nowhere and incomprehensible Chinglish (e.g., "No professional doors").

Incidentally, it would appear that "Lucky eating you" is permanently closed, as can be seen from this Yelp-like listing.

[Thanks to Vito Acosta, Diana Shuheng Zhang, Chenfeng Wang, Yilise Lin, Yijie Zhang, Jinyi Cai, Qi Ruan, and Shuqi Huang]


  1. Jason M said,

    December 30, 2020 @ 11:43 am

    I’m trying to parse the “ 到” (dao) here. Isn’t that sort of completion-of-journey-implying? In other words, I’d have translated this as “very lucky to have [arrived here] to have eaten, you”. I guess that goes with the implication that you’ve been all over the mall and have now found the food here, which is lucky for you, so the eating is a done deal? Kind of like: 幸运的是最终找到了这家餐厅?

  2. Robot Therapist said,

    December 30, 2020 @ 1:52 pm

    Maybe it was an attempt at a play on "nice to meet you" ?

  3. Luke said,

    January 5, 2021 @ 1:20 am

    Agreed. It sounded nonsensical until i read "nice to eat you", and that's when the joke clicked.

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