In Western countries, you can order any Chinese food with only 10 words of Chineseas everything on a Chinese takeaway menu is usually numbered! In China, however, ordering food can be a real cultural experience, and there is no English speaking staff to help or even English menus, and certainly no numbers. In this free lesson, a HanbridgeMandarin teacher will teach you the basics you need to know so you can enjoy delicious Chinese cuisine. With these Mandarin Chinese words and phrases, you can get the menu translated, ask questions and get recommendations.
Restaurants in China are almost as varied as those in the United States, although you don’t get quite as much international food in most places. You'll get plenty of regional Chinese cuisines, which goes way beyond what are served as "traditional" Chinese food in the States.
When you go to a restaurant in China, you can choose a table by yourself in most cases. You will only be seated by the waiter or waitress if it is a really fancy restaurant, or it is very busy in the restaurant at that moment and there appear to be no seats available. In some restaurants the menu will be on the table already otherwise the waiter will bring it over to you as soon as possible.
The first step toward breaking down culinary barriers is to change the way you think about meals. In Chinese culture, composing a meal is an aesthetic experience worthy of contemplation by emperors, poets, and sages. Confucius wouldn't eat any meat that wasn't properly cut or served without its correct sauce.
The second thing is that you need to know how to order by menu. Here are the names of some dishes and drinks that you might find on the menu.
Tomato and fried egg
Kung pao chicken
Sweet and sour pork
Sichuan boiled fish
The third thing is that you could use the list above or any other food names that you have learnt in Mandarin. A useful phrase is 有(yǒu)没(mei)有(yǒu)(Do you have ...?). If the restaurant has it the reply will be you, if not then 没(méi)有(yǒu). Such as some common phrases：
我(wǒ)不(bú)要(yào)辣(là)。I don’t want chilies.
我(wǒ)不(bú)要(yào)味(wèi)精(jīng)。I don’t want MSG.
我(wǒ)不(bú)要(yào)太(tài)咸(xián)。I don’t want it too salty.
At last, the waitress will bring the bill to your table. Chinese people don’t like pay the bill separately. If you are eating out with a group, everybody in the group will try to pay the whole lot. It is Chinese culture and you will see everyone fight to pay the bill for the whole group at the end of the meal in the restaurant. Of course if someonewinsand successfully pays for the whole group this time, next time it will be someone else’s turn. You don’t need to tip your waitressin Chinese restaurants. But if you are so happy with the food and service and can’t be bothered to wait for small change, you can leave the change as a tip.
Here is a short vedio about how to order food in China, let's see and learn together!
Iris Liu is a Chinese Learning teacher at Hanbridge Mandarin. Iris holds a MTCSOL degree from Jilin University. Iris has the skills and drive to make learning Chinese both fun and fruitful for her students.