A Quirky Oyster Shack

Big sign in Changhua City
A quirky oyster shack in Changhua City.

The postman will have no problem finding this restaurant with an oversized address in Changhua City 彰化市! Now, while I am getting to be fairly good at puzzling out Chinese place names the shop’s name, 蚵ㄚ仁, is Taiwanese if I am not mistaken. Hé 蚵 means “oyster” so that’s part is simple enough—this place specializes in locally sourced oysters, as we can learn from perusing this post. The ㄚ is a character from Zhuyin, a phonetic alphabet used almost exclusively in Taiwan nowadays, and I suppose this is the second sound in ô-á-chian, the Taiwanese word for oyster omelette. (Even Mandarin speakers in Taiwan use this term when referring to the dish, by the way.)

At first I figured the big sign was merely a gimmick—but apparently it is also a joke that I’m not in on. A Taiwanese friend remarked that “220” is a kind of numeric code for oysters (or oyster omelettes) without explaining why. Numeric references are common on the Chinese language web but I haven’t the slightest idea how to puzzle this one out. Does anyone know what’s going on here?

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering the obvious—what’s the food like?—I am not likely to try it. Locally-sourced anything sounds great but Changhua 彰化 is terribly polluted (factories dump waste directly into rivers, for example) and oysters get by filtering whatever’s in the water. No thanks!