Cantonese ad for teppan steak

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Café de Coral Advertisement with Hong Kong Cantonese Lexical Items:

(source: from their Instagram account)

Written Cantonese is frequently used in print advertisements in Hong Kong.

Written in the Café de Coral advertisement are two Hong Kong Cantonese texts as follows:

1.孖住更抵食 maa1 zyu6 gang3 dai2 sik6 ‘even more reasonably priced for two people eating together’.

2. 咋咋淋 zaa4 zaa2 lam4 ‘sound of something frying, sizzling’.


1. 抵食 dai2 sik6 ‘to be worth eating, (for a meal in a restaurant) be reasonably priced’.

This is a lexical entry on page 193 of the Robert S. Bauer's ABC Cantonese-English Comprehensive Dictionary.

2. 孖住 maa1 zyu6 ‘being together, accompanied by (so.); sharing (sth.) with (so.); (for people or things) sticking together, keeping together’.

This is a lexical entry on page 651 of the ABC Cantonese-English Comprehensive Dictionary.

Page 630: 孖maa1 ‘twin, paired (things that usu. match in some way, such as twin babies), two (of a kind), double . . . together with, along with, join with (so. to do sth.); to be accompanied by (so.); to share (sth.) with (so.); (for people or things) to stick together, keep close together’.

Page 1110: 住 zyu6 ‘to V. for a while, for V. to be ongoing, in the midst of V.-ing

3. 咋咋淋 zaa4 zaa2 lam4 ‘sound of sth. frying, sizzling’.

While this lexical item does not occur as an entry in the ABC Cantonese-English Comprehensive Dictionary, we do find a related expression on page 1039 of the dictionary, viz., 喳喳聲 zaa4 zaa2 seng1 1. ‘sound of sth. moving quickly, swiftly, immediately, right away; 2. sound of sth. frying in hot oil’. This expression is also written as 咋咋聲, but 喳喳聲 is the more commonly-occurring form based on a Google search.

I suppose this is just a play on the phrase zaa4 zaa4 lam6, often written as 咋咋臨 or 咋咋淋, meaning “hurry up”, with lam4 淋 here referring to the “pouring” of the sauce over the steak on the hot metal plate.

As for the large characters in the center of the advertisement, 鐵板餐 tit3 baan2 caan1 ("iron plate meal"), they are derived from the Japanese expression, borrowed into English, "teppan(yaki)":


n. pl. tep·pan·ya·kis
1. A style of cooking in Japanese cuisine in which food, such as chopped beef, chicken, shrimp, or vegetables, is stir-fried on a griddle.
2. Food cooked in this way.

[Japanese : teppan, iron plate, griddle + yaki, verbal noun of yaku, to burn. Japanese teppan : tetsu, iron (from Old Japanese, from Middle Chinese thiat, from Old Chinese *lhît, perhaps originally meaning "black (metal)" and akin to Old Chinese *lhît, a black horse, or perhaps an East Asian areal word spreading with iron metallurgy and akin to Tibetan lčags and Thai lèk, if these are not ultimately from Old Chinese) + Japanese -pan, variant in composition of han, board, plank, from Middle Chinese pa⋮n´, from Old Chinese *prânʔ; akin to Tibetan phar, panel, small plank. Japanese yaku, from Old Japanese; akin to Okinawan (dialect of Naha) yachun.]



Oh, the beauty of the multitudinousness of human languages and how their magnificent manifestations fly around the earth!  May there never be a day when they are reduced to one (in contrast to the bleak future predicted in this comment on a recent Language Log post)!


Selected readings


[h.t. apoemyoudontforget; thanks to Bob Bauer and Abraham Chan]




  1. Alvin said,

    September 26, 2021 @ 2:09 pm

    I don't think the name 鐵板餐 was really derived from Japanese teppanyaki, though I don't have any sources to back this up. According to an old article by Apple Daily [1], the meal serving method had a Western influence when it first appeared in Hong Kong, so I would guess that its name is more likely a local invention. I could be wrong though.

    [1]: from "鋸扒的歲月【70's:鐵板盛勢時代】" –

    > 鐵板牛扒在七十年代最流行,據食家唯靈先生說,最早期推出鐵板餐的餐廳,是 1956 年開業、位於中環連卡佛大廈的美心餐廳(即現時美心集團前身)。向美心集團求證,證實鐵板牛扒源於外國西餐廳,後來美心餐廳開業,餐廳專程購入鐵板,將鐵板牛扒引進香港,鐵板自此在香港落地生根。

  2. Victor Mair said,

    September 26, 2021 @ 2:53 pm

    鐵板, which I was referring to, comes from Japan.

    Also see the last sentence of the quoted Apple Daily article, which speaks clearly of teppan steaks as being imported to Hong Kong.

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