A Cheat Sheet for Ordering in Mandarin for Newbies

Some foreigners recognize so few Chinese characters that rocking up at a restaurant without an English menu can be a real challenge.

While this quickie guide won’t give you access to the deeper, darker corners of every Chinese menu, it’s a start to at least make sure you don’t accidentally order the Spicy Lung Slices or Large Intestine Soup:

A Cheat Sheet for Ordering in Mandarin for Newbies

Food 食物 shí wù

Vegetables 蔬菜 shū cài

– Cabbage 白菜 Bái cài
– Scallion/Green onion 葱 Cōng
– Onion 洋葱 Yáng cōng
– Celery 芹菜 Qín cài
– Coriander 香菜 Xiāng cài
– Bamboo shoot 笋 Sǔn
– Mushroom 蘑菇 Mó gū
– Tomato 西红柿/番茄 Xī hóng shì/ Fān qié
– Potato 土豆 Tǔ dòu
– Corn 玉米 Yù mǐ
– Eggplant 茄子 Qié zi
– Cucumber 黄瓜 Huáng guā
– Bean sprout 豆芽 Dòu yá
– Spinach 菠菜 Bō cài

Meat 肉 Ròu

– Pork 猪肉 Zhū ròu
– Beef 牛肉 Niú ròu
– Chicken 鸡肉 Jī ròu
– Lamb 羊肉 Yáng ròu
– Ribs 排骨 Pái gǔ
– Pork belly 五花肉 Wǔ huā ròu
– Steak 牛排 Niú pái

Seafood 海鲜 Hǎi xiān

– Crab 螃蟹 Páng xiè
– Shrimp 虾 Xiā
– Fish 鱼 Yú
– Lobster 龙虾 lóng xiā
– Spicy Crawfish 麻辣小龙虾 Má là xiǎo lóng xiā

Regional dishes 地方菜 dì fāng cài

– Peking duck 北京烤鸭 Běi jīng kǎo yā
– Shanghai small steamed buns 上海小笼包 Shàng hǎi xiǎo lóng bāo
– Xi’an hamburger 西安肉夹馍 Xī ān ròu jiā mó
– Sichuan hotpot 四川火锅 Sì chuān huǒ guō
– Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles 兰州拉面 Lán zhōu lā miàn
– Hangzhou braised pork belly 杭州东坡肉 Háng zhōu dōng pō ròu
– Changsha-style stinky tofu 长沙臭豆腐 Cháng shā chòu dòu fu

Drinks 饮品 yǐn pǐn

– Tea 茶 Chá
– Red wine 红酒 Hóng jiǔ
– White wine 白葡萄酒 Bái pú táo jiǔ
– Beer 啤酒 Pí jiǔ
– Juice 果汁 Guǒ zhī
– Ice water 冰水 Bīng shuǐ
– Cola 可乐 Kě lè

 

Key ordering phrases

Hi, what do you want to order?
你好,请问你想点什么?
Nǐ hǎo,qǐng wèn nǐ xiǎng diǎn shén me?

I’d like to have __.
我想要__。
Wǒ xiǎng yào__.

Hi waiter, I’m a vegetarian, can you recommend some vegan food to me?
你好,服务员, 我是素食主义者,请问你能推荐我一些素食菜吗?
Nǐ hǎo fú wù yuán, wǒ shì sù shí zhǔ yì zhě, qǐng wèn nǐ néng tuī jiàn wǒ yī xiē sù shí cài ma?

I really like to eat steak!
我很喜欢吃牛排!
Wǒ hěn xǐ huān chī niú pái!

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Shreya
Shreya
1 month ago
So, do you like this essay? :
     

Mandarin is such a beautiful language. This is extremely helpful and informative! How I wish I’d read your post before my trip to Beijing! It would have had been a lifesaver. Good job! Definitely taught me a lot of new words! 😀

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