60+ Chinese Words and Phrases to Fill Your Belly at Chinese Restaurants
The Most Useful Chinese Restaurant Phrases
Now that you’re well-informed about Chinese restaurant etiquette, here are some restaurant phrases that will come in handy:
欢迎 (huān yíng) — Welcome
几位 (jǐ wèi) — How many people?
等一下 (děng yī xià) — Just a moment
菜单 (cài dān) — Menu
___ 杯水 (___ bēi shǔi) — May we have ___ glasses of water please?
一壶茶 (yī hú chá) — May we have a pot of tea please?
Teas vary through the different parts of China, but here are a few common ones:
红茶 (hóng chá) — Black tea. Although this is literally translated “red tea,” it refers to what Westerners know as black tea.
黑茶 (hēi chá) — Chinese black tea. Chinese black tea is very dark and quite strong. It’s basically the tea version of coffee.
绿茶 (lǜ chá) — Green tea
可以加热水 (kě yǐ jiā rè shǔi) — Please add hot water
不用味精 (bú yòng wēi jìng) — Please don’t use MSG. This is becoming a hotter topic in China, so don’t be afraid to speak up if it matters to you.
我要 (wǒ yào…) — I would like…
有叉子吗 (yǒu chā zi ma) — May I have a fork please? – Nothing personal… I know you can use chopsticks… but just in case…
有筷子吗 (yǒu kuài zi ma) — Do you have chopsticks?
有勺子吗 (yǒu shǎo zi ma) — Do you have spoons?
买单 (mǎi dān) — May I have the bill?
可以刷卡吗 (kě yǐ shuā kǎ ma) — Do you accept cards?
我不能吃… (wǒ bù néng chī…) — I can’t eat… Use this phrase when referring to allergies and intolerances.
Phrases for the Chinese Fanguan
A 饭馆 (fàn guǎn) is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant which is much less formal than a regular restaurant.
They provide toilet paper as napkins for free. All plates are individual. Patrons are usually in and out, so the tables are freed up quicker for other people. You pay first, then get your food. At buffets there are no lines, so you eat based on your insistence for food.
Here are a couple 饭馆 phrases that will come in handy:
多一点 (duō yī diǎn) — Can you give me a little more please? Use this phrase when they’re putting your plate together; this isn’t rude, considering they want you to be happy
__ 荤 __ 素 (__ hūn ___ sù) — ___ meats and __ vegetables
The above phrase will come in handy as buffets often offer one meat and three vegetable choices or two meats and two vegetable choices
带走 (dài zǒu) — Take out
Phrases for the Chinese Shaokao
烧烤 (shāo kǎo – Chinese barbecue) is a popular street food, especially in night markets. They are often family-owned and independently run. You pay whoever is cooking. Someone will be there to answer any questions you have, but you hand-select your skewers and give them to the cook. You may be given a basket to load your skewers into if you’ve chosen that many.
If the 烧烤 place is outside of a restaurant, you’ll likely have to pay at the register and hand your receipt to the cook so he knows what you paid for.
Here are some 烧烤 phrases that will come in handy:
串 (chuàn) — Skewers
少油 (ishǎo yǒu) — Not too much oil. Some barbecue places tend to use a lot of oil, especially if they cook on a hot plate
辣/不辣 (là/bú là) — Spicy/not spicy
做长 一点 (zuò cháng yī diǎn) — Please cook it a little more. The food is usually cooked well, but if you want it cooked a little more, don’t be afraid to ask.
Food Phrases for Placing Your Order in Chinese
一碗 (yī wǎn) — A bowl of
一盘 (yī pán) — A plate of
炸 (zhá) — Fried
炒 (chǎo) — Stir-fried
煮 (zhǔ) — Boiled
蒸 (zhēng) — Steamed
烤 (kǎo) — Roasted
焖 (mèn) — Braised
三分熟 (sān fēn shú) — Rare
四分熟 (sì fēn shú) — Medium rare
五分熟 (wǔ fēn shú) — Medium
七分熟 (qī fēn shú) — Medium well
全熟 (quán shú) — Well done
面条 (miàn tiáo) — Flour noodles
米线 (mǐ xiàn) — Rice noodles
有没有… (yǒu méi yǒu…) — Do you have…
牛肉 (niú ròu) — beef
鸡肉 (jī ròu) — chicken
羊肉 (yáng ròu) — lamb
鸭肉 (yā ròu) — duck
猪肉 (zhū) — pork
茄子 (qié zi) — eggplant
番茄 (fānqié) — tomato
葱 (cōng) — green onions
豆腐 (dòu fu) — tofu
土豆 (tǔ dòu) — potato
白菜 (bái cài) — Chinese cabbage
饺子 (jiǎo zi) — dumplings
包子 (bāo zi) — steamed buns
米饭 (mǐ fàn) — rice
炒饭 (chǎo fàn) — fried rice
北京烤鸭 (Běijīng kǎo yā) — Peking duck, called Beijing Roast Duck in Chinese