Chinese food is one of the world’s most popular cuisines. Not only does it taste amazing, but it also has a fascinating history. Because of this, it’s no surprise that many people want to try this authentic cuisine.
However, knowing how to order food in Chinese can be tricky if you’re unfamiliar with the language. That’s why we’ve put together this simple guide for you to learn Chinese the easy way!
So without further ado, let’s dive into this simple step-by-step guide on ordering food in Chinese!
Getting A Table In Chinese Restaurants
Local restaurants may be particularly loud due to the volume of customers’ lively chatter. In fact, customers often equate the restaurant’s noise level with the taste of its food. Ergo, the louder the restaurant, the better the food!
When you enter a restaurant, you may be greeted by a hostess or waiter with 请问几位? (Qǐng wèn jǐ wèi ?) which translates to “How many people?”
You can reply with these phrases:
Below are some other questions that restaurant staff may ask in addition to the phrases mentioned above:
|Smoking or non-smoking||抽烟吗?||Chōuyān ma?||
|Are you celebrating a special occasion?||有什么特殊的场合吗？||Yǒu shénme tèshū de chǎnghé ma?||
|Have you booked a table/made a reservation?||你预定一张桌子了吗?||Nǐ yù dìng yī zhāng zhuō zi le ma?||
Calling The Waiter
In China, waiters and waitresses may not even come over to take your orders. Since tipping in any Chinese restaurant is not common, most waiters “man the floor” rather than attend each table individually. This is why you usually have to call someone’s attention if you want their help.
To call a waiter, you have to say 服务员 (fú wù yuán), which means waiter. If you want to ask for the menu, just say 菜单 (cài dān), which translates to “May we have a menu?”
Browsing A Chinese Menu
Some Chinese menus may include English translations or illustrations, making it easier for tourists to order meals. But you will inevitably come across locations where the restaurant won’t provide an English menu or photos of the dishes.
If you find yourself in such a situation, the key phrases and characters in Chinese that you will learn today will come in handy!
Not that you have to know all of the terms of common Chinese food ingredients. But knowing some characters can help you figure out what sort of protein is present in specific menu choices and how such meals are cooked.
Here’s a list of the most popular Chinese dishes you should be familiar with:
|Fried rice||炒饭||Chǎo fàn||
|Noodle soup||汤面||Tāng miàn||
|Stir-fried noodles||炒面||Chǎo miàn||
|Peking duck||北京烤鸭||Běijīng kǎoyā||
Moreover, here’s a list of Chinese words that describes how the meal was cooked:
|Pulled noodles||拉面||Lā miàn||
|Steak, fillet, chop||排||Pái||
|Cold/side dish||小菜||Xiǎo cài||
Ordering Food In Chinese Restaurants
Now that you are familiar with the menu, it’s time to order your food. The first thing you should know is sharing food is a huge part of Chinese culture.
In fact, it’s very common in Asian cultures, as well. So, when dining as a group, remember that you’re ordering for everybody.
When deciding how much Chinese food to get, a decent rule of thumb is to pick one dish per individual. Nevertheless, it’s considered good manners to over-order in China as a sign of generosity and hospitality.
To begin ordering, you must first understand an important structure:
I want/would like [number] order(s) of [dish]. 我要 + number + 份+ dish。(wǒ yào + number + fèn + dish.)
For instance, if you want two orders of dumplings, you should say: 我要两份饺子。(Wǒ yào liǎng fèn jiǎo zi.)
Ordering Drinks In Chinese
Ordering drinks may be slightly different. Instead of 份 fèn, you’ll have to use 杯 bēi:
I want [number] glass(es) of [drink]. 我要 + number + 杯 + drink。(wǒ yào + number + bēi + drink.)
For instance, you want to order three glasses of orange juice. You have to say: 我要三杯橙汁。(Wǒ yào sān bēi chéngzhī.)
However, if the drink you want to order comes in a can, substitute 杯 with 听 (tīng). If it comes in a bottle, then use 瓶 (píng).
Receiving Your Chinese Food Orders
You’ve done the hard part. You’ve ordered your food in Chinese and hopefully they got it right!
If the waiter brings your order, double-check that you have all the right items. When your order is complete, start to eat!
Here are more valuable sentences that you can use when receiving your order:
Don’t forget to say “thank you” when your food arrives! You can say 谢谢 (xiè xie) or 感谢 (gǎnxiè) for this.
What Phrases Should I Use When Paying The Bill In Chinese
In China, people tend to eat their meals quickly. It’s also a Chinese custom to leave immediately after finishing your meal.
If you’re dining with a group of people and want to stay longer, it’s polite to ask if you can order more food or drinks.
When it comes to paying the bill, men often cover the tab for the women, whereas older individuals pay for the younger. It’s also common for friends or family members to pay for each other.
Here are a few lines to keep in mind as your meal draws to a close:
|Can I have the bill?||请给我帐单?||Qǐng gěi wǒ zhàngdān?|
|Can I pay by credit card?||我可以用信用卡吗?||Wǒ kěyǐ yòng xìnyòngkǎ ma?|
|Pay together.||一起付。||Yì qǐ fù.|
|Pay separately.||分开付。||Fēn kāi fù.|
|I want to wrap up the leftovers.||我要打包.||Wǒ yào dǎ bāo.|
Order Food In Chinese With Ease
So, now you know how to order food in Chinese! You’re ready to take your first steps into a new culture. Just keep practicing and learning new words. Soon enough, you won’t even have to think about how to order food in Chinese anymore—it will just come naturally to you! If you want to learn more about Chinese culture and language, check out the Ling App.
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