Like I had said in the comments, I live in/near Chinatown brooklyn. Its a mile and a half length of 8th avenue extending up 2-3 blocks on each side of the avenue. Ive been here my entire life and the neighborhood changed right around me, which personally I find to be awesome since I love the culture and of course the food.
Like queenie_z I have noticed listings of what appears to be menu items written only in chinese. I know they are menu items because they have prices next to them, and there are no equivalents because the characters of the entries on these usually neon colored papers posted to the wall have no equavalent in the menu. I tend to shrug it off because I tend to stick to resturants where the people know me, or places I have previously gone with friends who introduced me to staff and they know I dont have a problem with anything on offer, aside of an occasional reaction to something like say too much grease, so my 'resturant friends' enjoy introducing me to new things to try. This of course means I find out eventually about the new and interesting things that are listed in the 'chinese chinese' for lack of a better term menus.
The suck I remembered was about 6 months ago. I work for NYC Transit, on the mid shift which means I generally get home sometime between midnight and three am. Now 8th avenue tends to stay open late but there is a limit, so pretty much everything was closed as I was trudging my way home from the local train station. Across the avenue from my block, on the corner formed from my street and the avenue on the base of the hill I was lucky enough to find an open chinese resturant. HOORAY for me right? Well not really, the vast majority of the menu is written in chinese and when I asked the staff for clarification I got a smile and a shrug. Finally after a couple of attempts the lady at the register told me she couldnt understand english, and apparently that was the norm that night.
I dont know if I caught them on a bad night where there was no bilingual person scheduled or what, but I left the resturant fairly unhappy that I couldnt bring home anything special for supper. If I go back I think I should bring one of my friends so they can translate if it happens again.