Chinese Restaurant Numerals

This is driving me crazy and I can’t manage to make a 'net search narrow enough that’ll it return what I’m seeking.

When ordering items in a Chinese, Japanese, or Korean restaurant in said lands, one will write the total number for each item by that item on the list. Instead of using Arabic numerals or the simple or complex traditional Chinese numerals, one uses a different system entirely. I’ve seen it before, but can’t recall what the numerals are. Anyone know and can post here what the “restaurant numerals” for the following numbers are:


Thanks in advance.

2 answers.

one, is that they’re using chinese numbers, base 10.

second… it’s from a bizarre tally system using the character 正 meaning “upright” and also the first month of the chinese year. It keeps tally by how many strokes of it is written, from 1-5. The chinese characters are not only each unique, it is also very specific in the order the strokes are written. The top horizontal is the first stroke. the main vertical stroke is the 2nd. the third is the middle horizontal stroke. the fourth is the small vertical stroke on the left. the last is the bottom stroke. based on how “complete” the word is, a tally up to 5 can be kept.

but, more probable is that when you order the “number 3 special” they’re not writing down #3 but rather the name of the dish itself. like, when you order a #1 from mcdonalds, they won’t write down “1” but rather “large big mac meal with coke”. that’s why it looks so complicated.

You mean the financial numerals?

Or maybe the Suzhou numerals?

So many numbers, so little time…

Yeah, I was going to guess the tally system too. It’s kind of equivalent to western society’s prison wall counting system, you know where 4 verticle strokes then one horizontal strikethrough make a set of 5.

This article on Tally marks has a picture of what you probably saw.

Or is it thefinanical representation of Chinese numbers?

sIt’s the Chinese tally marks. Thanks! For numbers greater than 5, one just starts a new tally next to the other tally. Many places here have the bills preprinted with all the menu items and the customer writes the tally for how many of each item he wishes to order.

The other links are fascinating. Thanks for those also!

Speaking of financial characters, about 30 years ago, all documents filed with the city/gu/dong halls in Korea required those for all numerals, including date of birth. Now, it’s the European version of Arabic numerals required.