2016-01-23elementary

Ordering Food In Chinese

Do you find it difficult to order food in China? Have you ever had to eat very spicy food just because you didn't know how to express the spiciness you wanted?
In this lesson, we learn how to call for the waiter, specify the spiciness you want, and what to say when the food is taking too long.

First, let's see how you can call for the waiter and tell him that you want to order.

Hover over any word to show translation
fú wù yuán
服务员
服務員
waiter, waitress, attendant
 
cài dān
菜单
菜單
menu
 
wǒ men
我们
我們
we
yào
to want, to ask for
diǎn cài
点菜
點菜
to order dishes
 

Waiter, menu! We would like to order.

Character set
Pinyin

“服务员/服務員” means waiter, and can be used for both men and women. A lot of Chinese also like to use “美女 [měi nǚ]” (beautiful girl) and “帅哥 [shuài gē]” (handsome guy) to call for the waitress or waiter, in hopes that making the staff happy could lead to getting better service.

Ok, now that you have a menu, you can start ordering food. We can use “我要 [wǒ yào] + name of the food” or “给我来个 [gěi wǒ lái ge] + name of the food” to order.

Hover over any word to show translation
 
-
fú wù yuán
服务员
服務員
waiter, waitress, attendant
 
I, me
yào
to want, to ask for
 
3
3
wǎn
bowl, cup
fàn
cooked rice, food
 
 
 
 
-
gěi
to give
I, me
lái
to arrive, to come round
ge
classifier for people or objects in general
là zi
辣子
辣子
chili
chicken

- Waiter, I want three bowls of rice. - Give me one spicy chicken.

Character set
Pinyin

“辣子鸡” is a very spicy dish. If you don’t like your food that spicy, you can tell the waiter the level of spiciness you would like. In China, spiciness can roughly be divided into 5 levels, as follows.

Hover over any word to show translation
(negative prefix), not
hot (spicy)
 
wēi
tiny, miniature
hot (spicy)
 
zhōng
middle, center
hot (spicy)
 
big, great
hot (spicy)
 
special, distinguished
hot (spicy)
 

Not spicy, mildly spicy, normal spicy, very spicy, extremely spicy.

Character set
Pinyin

Using this new knowledge, we can place an order like this:

Hover over any word to show translation
gěi
to do sth (for sb)
I, me
lái
to come, to arrive
ge
classifier for people or objects in general
là zǐ
辣子
辣子
chili
chicken
 
tè là
特辣
特辣
very spicy
de
(used after an attribute)
 
zài
again, then
lái
to come, to arrive
ge
classifier for people or objects in general
shuǐ zhǔ yú
水煮鱼
水煮魚
Sichuan poached sliced fish in hot chili oil
 
wēi là
微辣
微辣
mildly spicy
de
(used after an attribute)
 
hái yǒu
还有
還有
furthermore, in addition
 
5
5
chuàn
to string together, skewer, classifier for rows or strings
yáng ròu
羊肉
羊肉
mutton
chuàn
to string together, skewer, classifier for rows or strings
 
bú yào
不要
不要
don't, must not
hot (spicy)
 

Give me one spicy chicken, extra spicy. And one boiled fish, mildly spicy. As well as five lamb skewers, not spicy.

Character set
Pinyin

By the way, just like “hot” in English, “辣” can also mean “sexy”. So you can use it like this:

Hover over any word to show translation
she
hěn
very
hot (spicy), sexy
 

She is very hot.

Character set
Pinyin

Ok, let's return to ordering food. Now you lots of food, but how can we not have beer? Let’s see how we can order it.
In China, beer is either served cold or in room temperature. If you don’t specify which one you want, chances are you will get a room-temperatured one. So if you like your beer cold, it is best to say so when you order.

Hover over any word to show translation
 
-
gěi
to give, to allow
I, me
lái
to arrive, to come round
píng
bottle
yān jīng
燕京
燕京
Yanjing, an old name for Beijing
pí jiǔ
啤酒
啤酒
beer (loanword)
 
yào
to want, to ask for
bīng
ice, cold
de
(used after an attribute)
 
。 -
I, me
yào
to want, to ask for
 
6
6
píng
bottle
bǎi wēi
百威
百威
Budweiser (beer)
pí jiǔ
啤酒
啤酒
beer (loanword)
 
cháng wēn
常温
常溫
room temperature
de
(used after an attribute)

Give me a bottle of Yanjing beer, cold. I want 6 bottles of Budweiser, room temperatured.

Character set
Pinyin

Food? Done! Beer? Done! Now we just have to wait for the food to arrive.
But what is taking so long? We want food! If your food isn't coming, you can tell the waiter in the following way:

Hover over any word to show translation
gāng cái
刚才
剛才
just now, a moment ago
diǎn
to order (food in a restaurant)
de
(used after an attribute)
cài
dish (type of food), cuisine
má fan
麻烦
麻煩
inconvenient, to trouble or bother sb
bāng
to help, to assist
I, me
cuī
to urge, to hasten sth
yí xià
一下
一下
(used after a verb) give it a try
 
tài
too (much), very
màn
slow
le
(modal particle intensifying preceding clause)
 
xiè xie
谢谢
謝謝
thank you
 

Could you hurry up with the food we ordered before? It's too slow. Thank you!

Character set
Pinyin

Well done! Now you can enjoy your food and beer!