Help with a trendy Asian restaurant name?
January 21, 2013 3:27 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to get some help for a new trendy, southeast Asian restaurant name. The restaurant will be limited service (fast-casual), similar to a Chipotle. Some names that I like: 1) Papaya 2) Spice 3) Samosa Any help would be greatly appreciated. Let me know if you have questions, and I can try to answer them. Thanks! Eric
posted by emeyer5269 to Food & Drink (61 answers total)
Where is it? Because if in NYC Spice and Papaya are close in name to existing small chains.
posted by sweetkid at 3:30 PM on January 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the quick feedback! I can't disclose the location right now, but at this point we're just interested in identifying some neat name concepts, whether they're taken or not, to get our creative juices flowing. Thanks again, would love to hear some ideas you might have!
posted by emeyer5269 at 3:35 PM on January 21, 2013

Naan Pareil
Meyer's Delhi
posted by infinitewindow at 3:37 PM on January 21, 2013

I personally like "papaya". It has a lush warm-weather exotic feel to it, and the three syllables just roll off your tongue. "Spice" and "Samosa" sound a bit more Indian to me, which it seems is not what you're going for.
posted by UniversityNomad at 3:38 PM on January 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

Hot Wok - current restaurant in Slidell, LA
Why Thai
posted by JujuB at 3:39 PM on January 21, 2013

Will you be offering a specific cuisine?

Tikka Tikka
Hot Pot
posted by carmicha at 3:45 PM on January 21, 2013

is this a place that'll be serving cuisines from all over southeast asia, or just one area/country in southeast asia? spice is generic and could be anywhere (and is kind of a horrible name for that reason), samosa/paratha are indian (and therefore not actually indicative of southeast asia). also, by trendy do you mean the food will actually be fusion? will the decor be trendy? or both?
posted by lia at 3:47 PM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Get It India.
posted by taff at 3:48 PM on January 21, 2013 [6 favorites]

Maybe that only works for Australians. "Get it in to ya."
posted by taff at 3:49 PM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Papayas are native to Central and South America, I'd go with rambutan if you're wanting to name the place after an iconic southeast asian fruit (or durian, but no one wants to eat there).
posted by jamaro at 3:49 PM on January 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

Thanks for the great question @carmicha and @lia. We will be offering a variety of southeast Asian fare, not specific to India. I recognize that is a general answer, but I cannot get into much more detail than that right now unfortunately. It will be trendy in both the sense of fusion and decor, yes. Looking forward to some more name ideas!
posted by emeyer5269 at 3:50 PM on January 21, 2013

um, you realize india is very much not not part of southeast asia, right?

also: as a) a southeast asian person who b) works in food media from time to time, it would be helpful to know what your target market is like. i'd make different suggestions for somewhere culturally diverse, full of immigrants, and food-obsessed like nyc, sf, or la, than i would for places that are, err, mostly white people.
posted by lia at 3:53 PM on January 21, 2013 [6 favorites]

Papaya would not entice me, but Mango would, as would Litchi and Logan
posted by fifilaru at 3:54 PM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Raj
posted by carmicha at 3:56 PM on January 21, 2013

Yes, @lia. The cuisine is not specific to India in any way. Our concept will be targeting urban, educated, diverse, millenials. The name should sound trendy enough to work in NYC, SF, or LA. Thanks for all the great comments!
posted by emeyer5269 at 3:57 PM on January 21, 2013


Too bad Vermilion is taken.
posted by BibiRose at 4:02 PM on January 21, 2013

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:04 PM on January 21, 2013

Mango Tango
Sa'more Samosas
The Gutsy Chutney (maybe for a fusion type place)
Chit Chaat

"Southeast Asia" is a pretty broad term that doesn't explain much. I think it would be helpful if you could give some examples of what the menu will be like - will this be a fusion place? Are there core ingredients/foods/dishes?
posted by raztaj at 4:08 PM on January 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Masala, Vadouvan
posted by BibiRose at 4:09 PM on January 21, 2013

posted by escabeche at 4:13 PM on January 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

Tawa/tava (depending on your transliteration preferences), assuming that your cuisine actually treats spices in that manner.
posted by aramaic at 4:16 PM on January 21, 2013

Get It India wins the internet forever. But if you want something a little more wood veneer and brushed metal sounding, pick your favorite spice or regional ingredient, and then check to see if it's been trademarked. If so, go 1337speak. "Cardamom" for instance, or if it's trademarked, Cardam0m.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:16 PM on January 21, 2013

Not sure why everyone is suggesting Indian names when the cuisine is southeast Asian.

I'm reading HK, Singapore, Malaysian, Vietnamese or Thai food from this.

Ma La
Tho Tho
posted by dave99 at 4:18 PM on January 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Koh Samui


Sweet Basil


(I would note that most of the above answerers seem to be assuming this is going to be an Indian restaurant. I really would avoid naming your Southeast Asian restaurant anything to do with Chaat, Chutney, Tandoori, etc, as those foods are not at all found in any Southeast Asian cuisine. That's sort of like opening a French bistro and calling it Tiramisu Caffe.)
posted by Sara C. at 4:22 PM on January 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

posted by HandfulOfDust at 4:23 PM on January 21, 2013 [8 favorites]

I agree with Slap*Happy's suggestion. So e.g.

Hot Ginger

In the town where I live, there's a bunch of restaurants that have taken the naming scheme "colour" + "ingredient", so e.g. "Purple Pickle", "Blue Ginger", "Blue Olive". I'm assuming they do it because it works...
posted by lollusc at 4:25 PM on January 21, 2013

And if you are going to do noodle-type foods, just call it "Noodle". I would totally go there.
posted by lollusc at 4:26 PM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm reading HK, Singapore, Malaysian, Vietnamese or Thai food from this. Oh. I agree geography wise... I was taking the original Samosa suggestion and subsequent discussion ("a variety of Southeast Asian cuisines, not specific to India") as meaning that this restaurant's fusion would be built on a platform of some aspect of Indian cuisine. To the OP: Please can we have some specificity about the cuisine?

If it's really general, then I think we need to think less about ingrediants and cooking techniques and more about broad commonalities, e.g.:

posted by carmicha at 4:32 PM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by cecic at 4:33 PM on January 21, 2013

Go with ingredients:

Holy Basil,
Chilli Lime
etc etc etc

PS, you can totally go into details; no one here is going to steal your idea of opening a restaurant serving ethnic food somewhere, with a funky name, and establishing the business before you can establish yours and cannibalising all your customers.

Ideas are not worth a hill of lemongrass in hospitality. Execution is what sets restaurants apart.
posted by smoke at 4:44 PM on January 21, 2013 [9 favorites]

It might be worth noting, to get better answers, that Southeast Asia is typically considered to include:

and, to an extent, Singapore, though Singaporean cuisine is highly influenced by Chinese and Indian cuisines which are vehemently NOT "Southeast Asian".

Southeast Asia typically is not assumed to include India, China, or Japan.

OP, does this line up at all with the foods you're planning to serve, or are you thinking of a more "pan-Asian" or fusion type of menu that might include Asian dishes that aren't Southeast Asian? Or more of an "international" or "cosmopolitan" restaurant that would focus on one type of dish, like noodles or curry, which would likely take you outside of Southeast Asia but include some Southeast Asian dishes?
posted by Sara C. at 4:47 PM on January 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

I like Lemongrass a lot.

Cow Town (Cow means "Food" in Thai)
Phuket All
posted by bluejayway at 4:49 PM on January 21, 2013

Rinjani - an active volcano in Indonesia
posted by quince at 4:50 PM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Rinjani reminded me of another idea:

posted by Sara C. at 4:52 PM on January 21, 2013

posted by gaspode at 5:08 PM on January 21, 2013

Go orthagonal - something that suggests backstory or romance or complete nonsense, but stands out from the crowded ranks of similar-sounding competition and stirs the imagination. At the very least it makes your SEO much easier:

- Uncle Hao and Auntie Kim-Ly's Infinite Food Condo
- The Ox And The Broken Waterwheel
- Laugh and Grow Fat
- Dream Fresh Dynasty
- The Twelve Sisters
posted by Chichibio at 5:10 PM on January 21, 2013 [6 favorites]

I'm an urban, educated, millennial (hate that term), who likes various Asian foods, in NYC. And really, some generic name like Spice, or whatever herb, or regional name is not going to attract me. It really has to do with quality food and service and nice understated taste/design. You could name it Jim Bob's Bean Hut, and if it's still good enough to get word of mouth around, then that's what'll get people in.
So, really, just name it whatever you want. My friend named her bakery after her cat. It's well decorated and the food is excellent, so she's getting business. Restaurants might as well use a porn-name-type generator at this point, especially in urban areas where there are literally a hundred restaurants just like it. How about.... Street name/neighborhood of your restaurant + exotic animal native to chosen southeast asian country. For example: K Street Kouprey, Stanton Saola, Delancey Dhole, Mission Marbled Cat. I dunno.
posted by greta simone at 5:11 PM on January 21, 2013 [12 favorites]

Red Dog
posted by sammyo at 5:20 PM on January 21, 2013

Greta Simone makes a pretty good point. Chipotle is a stupid name that has nothing to do with the food the company serves (they don't even offer a chipotle salsa!), and when it spread out of the Southwest, nobody could even pronounce it. And yet.
posted by Sara C. at 5:23 PM on January 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would be wary of naming anything Papaya because of this.
posted by CaptainZingo at 6:36 PM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Tom Yum
posted by jquinby at 6:51 PM on January 21, 2013

posted by Zephyrial at 7:00 PM on January 21, 2013

For me, there's an internal contradiction in this question: fast-casual implies copy-able, mainstream accessible, introductory-course eating (i.e., the place a naive customer goes for their first Pad Thai, Mission-style burrito, Tikka, fried rice, etc). This is definitely not the same thing as trendy.

If you're looking for a Chipotle clone that you can franchise all over, then Lemongrass or Basil or something basic like that is your winner: take an ingredient that has foreign cache for someone who's unfamiliar with that region's cuisine and use it as a touchstone for that cuisine.

For something to resonate with a trendier crowd, the reference has to be more esoteric - something like an Angkor or a Mandalay from Sara C's list above. I'd suggest doing some research about Bangkok or Phnom Penh and finding out their market district or restauranty areas and going with something like that. But realize that something like Patuxai won't play in Peoria...

It sounds like you need to narrow your concept, you can't sling the food or the concept of Panda Express to the Momofuku set.
posted by charlemangy at 7:00 PM on January 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

Oh, also, don't forget about this.
posted by charlemangy at 7:02 PM on January 21, 2013

I agree with charlemangy, the "urban, educated, diverse, millenials" who are "trendy" in the cities you mention would not be interested in a restaurant of "limited service (fast-casual), similar to a Chipotle." That said, I think that there are people who would like to think of themselves as eating in the same hip place as the culinary cognoscenti, but who would be more comfortable in something like a Chipotle (something perhaps less socially and gustatorily challenging and less concerned with authenticity than the first set demands). For that mass-culture crowd, something general and sufficiently-but-not-threateningly exotic like Satay or Mangosteen, (or, following Chichibio, Monsoon Wedding or Seventh Orchid) would be best.
posted by Edna Million at 8:41 PM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]



Glass Noodle

Tsai Wat

Cloud Forest
posted by salishsea at 9:00 PM on January 21, 2013

Lemongrass would be a near perfect Chipotle analog, except for the fact that pretty much every US city with at least three Thai restaurants has a minimum of one called Lemongrass. (The first two restaurants are named [Stupid pun on the word "Thai"] and Pad Thai Kitchen)

How about Banh Me?
posted by dersins at 11:10 PM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Thai Pad
Banana Leaf
The Shrimp And I
Siam Yum
Satay Satay
posted by MuffinMan at 11:35 PM on January 21, 2013

I've been to a couple cities with places named Banana Leaves or Banana Leaf. One Indian, one like Malaysian or something. The Indian one was delicious.

Or how about Bamboo East? I made that up.

Let us know what you name it!
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:02 AM on January 22, 2013

Madura (the island north of Java)
Kelapa (coconut)
posted by TWinbrook8 at 1:17 AM on January 22, 2013

South East Asian Kitchen/Diner/bistro/
Food Bowl
Tum Yum
Spice Kitchen
Eric Meyer's Spice Kitchen
Wok & Spring Roll
The Spice of Life
posted by MT at 1:17 AM on January 22, 2013

The most successful naming schemes I've seen for restaurants are either patterned after what greta simone said, or are named for quirks of the neighborhood that resonate with locals and sound cool to people further away. For example: I'm in Boston, where they enjoy naming every intersection of two streets as XYZ Square. No one knows the names of all of them, of course, so you usually just recognize a few near where you live. A place across town from me opened with the name Canary Square, which sounded just weird and catchy enough that I figured I'd give it a try. As it turned out, the corner they were on had a tiny placard on it saying it was named for PFC Canary, who did... something... in World War II. But it was a catchy enough name that it pulled in a lot of local traffic, most of whom said "hey, that's cool" when they figured out what the name meant.
posted by Mayor West at 5:16 AM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Tripti (means Satisfaction in Hindi)

Prasaan (Festive)

Manohar (Lovely)

Swaadpoorna (Tasty)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:16 AM on January 22, 2013

Sorry, but this question smells a little, what with the non-disclosure vibe and broad marketing speak. People Corporations usually pay for this kind of thing.
posted by TonyRobots at 8:35 AM on January 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

I don't think "just name it after whatever street you're on" works well for ethnic restaurants. I mean, unless you luck out and your location has an amazingly serendipitous name, and you can get away with something like "East Meets Western Avenue" or "Jasmine Square".
posted by Sara C. at 8:45 AM on January 22, 2013

I've always wanted to start an "Asian Fission" restaurant.
posted by schmod at 8:49 AM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Mixing a few ideas from the responses above - use something that is local to the place and add a flavor of the main cuisine that you are going to serve. Nasi Nashville, Kansas Kris, NY Nam phrik. You get the point.
posted by theobserver at 9:07 AM on January 22, 2013

I think the OP means a restaurant like this one near me.

And yes - we just got Chipotle in the UK and I've never heard anyone pronounce it the same way twice.
posted by mippy at 9:18 AM on January 22, 2013

There is a chipotle style Indian place in sf called tava, like Aramaic suggested
posted by mulligan at 9:37 AM on January 22, 2013

Simple and fun idea "Zing" speaks to spice, speaks to speed, and is a fun word regardless. It also sounds remotely Asian :)
posted by Recca at 8:07 PM on January 22, 2013

Just wanted to note a couple existing examples of the sort of restaurant you're talking about in case you didn't know:

Hot Clay Oven (Indian. NYC)
ShopHouse (SE Asian. Washington DC. Actually owned by Chipotle -- though only one branch at the moment.)
posted by odin53 at 3:42 PM on January 23, 2013

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