With thousands of restaurants to choose from, it couldn’t be easier to try a range of delicious local Chinese food. Wherever you look in Shanghai, there will inevitably be an eatery around the corner or across the road. How well do you know what to say when you get inside? Can you communicate effectively?
eat out in China
Getting started
Before you’ve even sat down, there are a few phrases you’ll need to use. Granted, a lot of restaurant lingo can be communicated with hand signals and pointing – but why not take the opportunity to practice some new language in a real scenario? Take a look at these phrases to get you started:两位liǎng wèiTable for two

可以给我菜单吗?

kěyǐ gěi wǒ càidān ma

Can I see a menu?

有推荐菜吗?

yǒu tuījiàncài ma

What do you recommend?

 

Personal preferences
It goes without saying that not everybody enjoys the same cuisine, and sometimes it can be hard to tell what exactly is in the dish from the grainy picture on the menu. No one enjoys having to pick around and inspect their dish for ingredients – so, make sure you know exactly what you are ordering next time by taking note of these questions:素食sù shíVegetarian

全素食

quán sùshí

Vegan

不要肉

búyào ròu

No meat

有肉吗?

yǒuròu ma

Does it contain meat?

VIP vocab

What do you ask for if the menu is unclear or presented in a way you don’t understand? Ordering the wrong food can ruin your night in an instant, so be sure to remember some of the common dishes and drinks and how to pronounce them:

面条

miàn tiáo

Noodles

水饺

shuǐ jiǎo

Dumplings

火锅

huǒ guō

Hotpot

啤酒

pí jiǔ

Beer

白酒

bái jiǔ

Baijiu (Chinese spirit)

chinese food

Getting your order rightUltimately, the flavor of your food is what greatly determines your dining experience, so choosing what kind of food you want is an important decision. Why settle for ‘I’ll just eat whatever arrives’ when you can tailor your experience to your own liking by broadening your vocabulary with some of these words and phrases:辣làSpicy

不辣

bú là

Not spicy

不要酱

búyào jiàng

No sauce

甜的

tián de

Sweet

酸的

suān de

Sour

eating food

Minding your manners

Waving at waiters and mumbling one-word sentences might get the point across – but here at Hutong School, we like to at least try and be polite our attempts at speaking Chinese.

不好意思

bù hǎo yì si

Excuse me

我想要…

wǒ xiǎng yào

I would like…

对不起

duì bù qǐ

Sorry

Paying the bill

The final stage of the dining experience is paying and leaving. Again, the international gesture of signing an imaginary bill above your head is likely to get the attention of the waiting staff, but it’s always better to use the correct phrases. Don’t forget, a lot of restaurants in China expect you to pay at the counter, so don’t be offended if you feel like you’re being ignored – the restaurant staff will expect you to simply get up and pay when you’re ready.

我可以买单了。

wǒ kěyǐ mǎidān le

I’m ready for the check

可以付现金吗?

kěyǐ fù xiànjīn ma

Can I pay with cash?

微信付

wēixìn fù

WeChat pay

支付宝付

zhīfùbǎo fù

Alipay

我扫你还是你扫我?

wǒ sǎo nǐ háishì nǐ sǎo wǒ

Should I scan your code or you scan mine?

Show us what you’ve got

We hope this article has prepared you with some useful terms to use on your next outing. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid of making mistakes – the waiters will understand.

Now, get and there and give it a go!