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How to Pronounce Mot Hai Ba, the New Vietnamese Restaurant Opening on Tuesday, April 23 in Lakewood

Chargrilled pork belly (photo by Kevin Hamilton)
Chargrilled pork belly (photo by Kevin Hamilton)

It’s official: Tuesday, April 23 is when Mot Hai Ba (“123″ in Vietnamese) is opening, starting at 11 a.m. (lunch) and 5 p.m. (dinner).

So far, so good. This Vietnamese street food restaurant sounds promising, especially since Dallas needs more Asian food. It’s a cool thing the ladies of Good 2 Go Taco are rising to the challenge.

But as long as we’re on this subject, I’m just going to come out and say it. No one else on the food blogosphere has, but I’m jet lagged and groggy from 20-something hours of travelling back from Taiwan (Btw, thanks for your system failure yesterday, American Airlines. Loved being stuck in Vancouver.), so I’m okay with being the bad guy.

Any restaurant name that needs a pronunciation guide in the press release is guaranteed bad news. Nancy said it right here when she found out Sēr (pronounced “sear”) was replacing Nana. Sēr may have been terrible, but Mot Hai Ba tops the cake of really, really bad names. I’m adding it to our growing list of worst names for restaurants, ever. Even WITH the pronunciation guide, mo’oht high bah, I doubt 99% of Lakewood residents are going to be able to say “123″ in Vietnamese correctly. Did you know that the Vietnamese language has six tones? (Chinese has five tones, and even I struggle with that.)

I know Jeana Johnson explained to Teresa on CultureMap that people say “mot hai ba, yo!” before they drink in Vietnam, but when I forwarded the press release to a Vietnamese friend, she didn’t make that connection upon reading the headline. She was confused about the name. So am I. Why not pick a name with more meaning? What about something non-Vietnamese clientele can actually pronounce? As for me, I’m going to go with Liz’s suggestion and call it “One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish” for now.

[Update 4/23/13 - Chinese has four tones, not five. Let's hope my old Chinese school teachers never stumble on this blog.]