Archaic Squid Soup

Cengji Squid Soup in Sanhe Night Market
A famous squid soup vendor in Sanhe Night Market.

I was wandering through Sānhé Night Market 三和夜市 on the first day of the new year when this small shop caught my eye. The formal name of the place is Céngjì Huāzhīgēng 曾記花枝羹 and, as the last three characters would suggest, they specialize in squid thick soup, a popular Taiwanese snack. The highly stylized characters on the signboard look something like seal script 篆書 to my inexpert eyes—with the last character, “gēng 羹”, swapped for the more traditional “焿”. Don’t ask me to make sense of that first character, mind you—it is enough to know that “huā 花” means flower.

Of course, this famous eatery in Sanchong has been written up countless times by Taiwanese bloggers, for example here, here, here, and here. Although my understanding of Chinese is still rudimentary at best I did not notice anyone taking any particular interest in the creative use of characters on the sign. I might be the only person to blog about this shop with far more interest in its typography than its taste!

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