How to Read Chinese Menus 读菜单

One of the most useful (and tasty!) things you can use your Chinese skills for is to order food.

If you have a good fundamental understanding of the language up to this point, you should try and put these skills to practical use and learn some of the most common and helpful Chinese characters found on a menu.

Let’s start off with a few simple names for some of the most common types of animals found on a menu.

Common Meats

牛 (niú) – cow
蟹 (xiè) – crab
鸡 (jī) – chicken
羊 (yáng) – sheep
猪 (zhū) – pig
鸭 (yā) – duck
鱼 (yú) – fish
虾 (xiā) – prawn

You are probably used to eating many different types of meat such as those listed above, but in China, a whole new selection may be available to you, from goose gizzards to beef tongue, depending on which restaurants you choose to dine at. We will discuss some of these possible delicacies here.

鸭肝 (yā gān) – duck liver
鸭膀 (yā bǎng) – duck wings
牛舌 (niú shé) – beef tongue
肺 (fèi) – lung
牛腱 (niú jiàn) – beef intestine
腰 (yāo) – kidney
牛筋 (niú jīn) – beef tendon
猪脑 (zhū nǎo) – pork brain
猪肘 (zhū zhǒu) – pork knuckle
猪耳 (zhū ěr) – pig ear
鸭掌 (yā zhǎng) – duck feet
肠 (cháng) – intestine
八爪鱼 (bā zhuǎ yú) – octopus
牛肚 (niú dù) – tripe

How to Read Chinese Menus 读菜单

1 宫 爆 鸡 丁 gōng bào jī dīng

Stir-fried diced chicken with chilli and peanuts

2 红 烧 排 骨 hóng shāo pái gǔ

Pork ribs in Brown Sauce

3 虎 皮 尖 椒 hǔ pí jiān jiāo

Tiger-skin green peppers

4 松 仁 玉 米 sōng rén yù mĭ

Pine nuts with sweet corn

5 皮 蛋 豆 腐 pí dàn dòu fu

Tofu mixed with salted duck eggs

6 糖 醋 藕 片 táng cù ǒu piàn

Sweet and sour lotus root slices

7 凉 拌 茄 泥 liáng bàn qié ní

Mashed eggplant in sauce

8 糖 醋 鲤 鱼 táng cù lĭ yú

Carp in sweet and sour sauc

9 鱼 香 肉 丝 yú xiāng ròu sī

Fish-flavored shredded pork

10 清 蒸 螃 蟹 qīng zhēng páng xiè

Steamed crabs

11 麻 婆 豆 腐 má pó dòu fu

Stir-fired bean curd in spicy sauce

12 铁 板 牛 柳 tiĕ băn niú liǔ

Beef with ginger and scallions on a hot plate

13 红 烧 肉 hóng shāo ròu

Braised pork with soy sauce

14 回 锅 肉 huí guō ròu

Stir-fried pork slices in hot sauce

15 香 酥 鸡 xiāng sū jī

Crispy fried chicken

16 白 斩 鸡 bái zhăn jī

Tender-boiled chicken with soy sauce

17 盐 水 鸭 yán shuĭ yā

Salted duck

18 水 煮 鱼 shuĭ zhǔ yú

Boiled fish fillet in spicy Sichuan sauce

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