Basic Food Terms and Phrases in Mandarin

Being able to recognize a few basic terms and phrases in Mandarin will help you out tremendously when you move to China. Ordering and knowing what food you will be served is very important, so we’ve listed a few of the common phrases that you’ll need to say in restaurants, as well as some popular foods.

Helpful phrases for eating out or ordering food

1. I don’t want spicy food

Wǒ bùyào là (woh boo-yao la)

我不要辣

2. I want this one

Wǒ yào zhège (woh yao jeguh)

我要这个

3. I want to order one noodle soup

Wǒ yàodiǎn yī fèn tāngmiàn (wo yao-dien yee fen tahng-mien)

我要点一份汤面

4. When you can’t eat any more

Chī bùxià (chuh boo-shee-yuh)

吃不下

5. When you’re full

Wǒ bǎole (woh bao-luh)

我饱了

6. What’s good to eat?

Yǒu shénme hào chī de (you shen-muh hao she duh)

有什么好吃的

7. How much (does it cost)?

Duōshǎo qián (doo-shao gee-en)

多少钱

8. What is this?

Zhè shì shénme (juh she shen-muh)

这是什么

Recognizing different foods

For the carnivore:

  • Ròu (row): Meat
  • Jī ròu (jee-row): Chicken
  • Niúròu (neuw-row): Beef
  • Zhū ròu (joo-row): Pork
  • Yáng ròu (yong-row): Mutton

From the sea:

  • Hǎixiān (hi-shien): Seafood
  • Yú (you): Fish
  • Xiā (she-yah): Shrimp
  • Xiè (she-yeh): Crab
  • Lóngxiā (long-she-yah): Lobster

Veggies:

  • Dòufu (doh-fu): Tofu
  • Bōcài (baw-tsye): Spinach
  • Báicà (bye-tsye)i: Cabbage
  • Mógu (maw-goo): Mushroom
  • Xīhóngshì/ Fān qié (see-hong-she/fahn-chyeh): Tomato
  • Yùmǐ (yew-me): Corn
  • Tǔdòu (too-doe): Potato
  • Qiézi (chyeh-dzuh): Eggplant

Menu mainstays:

  • Mǐfàn (mee-fahn): White rice
  • Chǎo fàn (chaow-fahn): Fried rice
  • Jiǎozi (jee-ow-zge): Dumplings
  • Húntún (hwun-dwun): Wonton
  • Tāng (tahng): Soup
  • Bāozi (bao-zuh): Stuffed steamed bun
  • Mántou (man-tow): Plain steamed bun
  • Chǎomiàn (chow-mien): Fried noodles
  • Tāngmiàn (tahng-mien): Noodle soup
  • Jīdàn (gee-dahn): Egg

Interested in teaching in China? View our available jobs!

Check out our Mandarin basic phrase guide to learn more terms:

Mandarin Basic Phrase Guide Thumbnail

Registration

Recover your password

Send us your email and we will send you instructions to reset your password

If you remember your password

OR