How do Chinese choose names for restaurants?  Although they change over time most of them seem to consist of a limited combination of a few terms.  Thus, Golden, Silver, Jade, Imperial, Panda, China, Hong Kong might be combined with terms like Palace, Dragon, House, City, Wok.

One empirical study by Frank Shyong and David Chan based on close to 7,000 restaurant names gathered from several decades confirmed this impression as they found a high repetitiveness of Chinese restaurant names.

Why?  The authors speculate:  "But perhaps the repetition in naming says more about us than it does about Chinese restaurateurs. Chinese restaurants have to use English words that the average American can associate with Chinese food or culture. .. Perhaps the monotony in Chinese restaurant naming just reflects how impoverished the knowledge of Chinese culture is here.

 This redundancy among names has led to several  "automated restaurant name generators"  such as the one by on the website of  a U.K. supermarket, Wai Yee Hong.

        In addition to selecting a name, a decision must be made about whether to use Chinese or English on the  restaurant signage.  Should they use only Chinese characters,  Chinese names transliterated into English spelling based on how the Chinese name sounds, or only English words,  The graph below shows how there was a shift from over a century from Chinese names to western names.

Another study used a consumer database from YELP to identify the 100 most common words used in Chinese restaurant names.  The results showed:

“China” and “Chinese” together appear in the names of roughly 15,000 restaurants in the database, or over one third of all restaurants.

“Express” is the next-most popular word, showing up in the names of over 3,000 restaurants. But as with “Panda” (2,495 restaurants), the numbers for “Express” are inflated by the Panda Express restaurant chain, which has over 1,500 locations.

“Wok,” another popular naming option, was represented in over 2,500 restaurant names. “Garden,” “House” and “Kitchen,” meanwhile, are the three places that appear most often in Chinese restaurant names.

Incidentally, the study also mapped the geographical location of Chinese restaurants across the country, and not surprisingly found highest concentrations on the west and east coasts.