The car hit cheese bacon mushroom face, part 2

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Todd Wilbur shared this menu item on Facebook:

This is a veritable masterpiece of Chinglish, covering several of the usual types of mistranslation inherent in the genre.  To unpack the crash, let's begin with the standard Language Log romanization, transcription, and translation:

chēdǎ zhīshì yānròu mógū miàn


"cheddar cheese bacon mushroom noodles"

All the online translators do a better job than the mishmash on Facebook, and Google Translate gets it perfectly.

Shaofu Chang's exegesis on the Facebook comment thread is instructive:

There are other sinoglyphic transcriptions for "cheddar" (e.g., qiēdá 切达, qiēdé 切德 [the characters bear no relevant meanings]), but "chēdǎ 车打" ("car beat") is quite common.  Similarly, there are other sinitic translations for "cheese" (e.g., nǎilào 奶酪, gānlào 干酪), but "zhīshì 芝士" is also commonplace.


When I was just about to make this post and gathering entries for the "Selected readings", I realized that I had written about the identical menu item eleven years ago: "The car hit cheese bacon mushroom face" (6/3/12).  Since I have added some new information in this post, I've decided to go ahead with this one too, which is why it has become "part 2".  Check out part 1 as well, since it has some interesting material not included here.

Selected readings


  1. AntC said,

    August 24, 2023 @ 12:19 am

    There are other sinoglyphic transcriptions for "cheddar" …, but "chēdǎ 车打" ("car beat") is quite common.

    I've experienced this gloopy, stringy pale yellow substance in fast-fooderies around Asia. Cheddar it is not. I presume it's some sort of (what Brits call) 'processed' cheese(?) Despite the 'noodles' (pasta?) and 'bacon' (pastrami/salami?) I assume this is imitating an American dish, Italian-'inspired' rather than actually Italian.

    I've also seen something called 'blue' cheese on the shelves in supermarkets there. I imagine this is a semi-soft 'Danish Blue' style.

    So 'Cheddar' here means no more than 'yellow' cheese(?)

    I'm not expecting/there's absolutely no reason Chinese culture should embrace cheese. Milk products weren't part of the culture until recently.

  2. Mike Grubb said,

    August 28, 2023 @ 12:25 pm

    While it's clear that the "car hit" is a translation quirk, I immediately thought of the use of the American term "roadkill" as a culinary nickname (which is not an actual reference to animals slain by cars; see or among others). Completely unrelated phenomena, so short-term apophenia strikes again.

  3. Taylor, Philip said,

    August 28, 2023 @ 1:13 pm

    Mike, the target of your first hyperlink does not seem particularly reliable — "Ready In: 360hrs 15mins" ?! Also the second hyperlink leads to a page which does include real road-kill in the recipe.

  4. Mike Grubb said,

    August 29, 2023 @ 8:17 am

    @Philip Taylor, I can't speak to the delay accessing the first link; both lead to different pages of the same site, and I had no difficulties following it. As to your second comment, while the narrative description does mention roadkill, the ingredients list includes venison, pork, and turkey, (as opposed to, say, squirrel, groundhog, or raccoon), so I took the reference to roadkill in the description as a joke. Granted, I could be falling victim to the inverse of Poe's Law and assuming jest where none was intended.

  5. amy said,

    September 3, 2023 @ 10:17 pm

    I suspect this and all the other wildly hilarious mistranslations that show up everywhere are from that same old widespread machine translator (the one that renders 干 as an expletive.)

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