Ordering in a Chinese restaurant

If you’re traveling in a Chinese-speaking country you’ll definitely be eating out and ordering in a Chinese restaurant. In this free lesson the Rocket Chinese team will teach you the basics you need to know so you can enjoy the delicious Chinese cuisine – just listen to the audio and practice saying these Mandarin Chinese words and phrases aloud. When you’re ready, why not try them out on the staff at a local Chinese restaurant?
Feel like another beer? Need some extra rice? Want to pay separately? No problem! After this lesson you’ll be ordering from the menu in Chinese like a pro, and impressing everyone at the table with your Chinese language skills. Is your mouth watering? Let’s get started!

Ordering in a Chinese restaurant

Food at a Chinese restaurant

When you go to a restaurant in China, in most cases you can choose the table by yourself. You will only be seated by the waiter or waitress if it is a really fancy restaurant, or it is very busy in the restaurant at that moment and there appear to be no seats available. In some restaurants the menu will be on the table already otherwise the waiter or waitress will bring it over to you as soon as possible.  After being greeted you could get asked one of the following questions…

Sometimes all you might get asked is…

You could answer by saying one of these phrases…

Not sure what you fancy eating? Just ask the waiter what he recommends…

Chinese food

Here are the names of some dishes and drinks that you might find on the menu…

To order the dish you would like simply say…

Once you finished your meal you ask for the bill…

Chinese cooking ingredients

In China the waiter or waitress will bring the bill to your table. Traditionally, Chinese people don’t split the bill. Instead, it is very common in Chinese culture that either the oldest or most respected person will pay for everyone at the table, or that everybody in the group will try to pay for the whole lot, depending on the occasion. It is interesting to see a "fight" (or at least heated exchange) take place at each table towards the end of a meal, because every person is trying to pay for the entire party. Of course if someone “wins” and successfully pays for the whole group this time, it will be someone else’s turn the next time.

Nowadays, this is less common within the younger generation. And WeChat even has a "split the bills" feature with its built-in apps. So it is still important to know how to say the following words, especially if you are dining out with foreign friends who might not share this tradition.

People don’t expect you to tip in Chinese restaurants. Unless you are really happy with the food and extra service, or you in a hurry and can’t be bothered for the change. In that case, the following sentence will get you covered.

Here are a few recommended Chinese lessons to try next!

Xià cì jiàn! (下次见!)

Lin Ping
Rocket Chinese


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