13 Dec

Basic Food Terms and Phrases in Mandarin

2076 times Last modified on Friday, 13 December 2019 23:17

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)



2. I want this one

Wǒ yào zhège (woh yao jeguh)



3. I want to order one noodle soup

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



4. When you can’t eat any more

Chī bùxià (chuh boo-shee-yuh)



5. When you’re full

Wǒ bǎole (woh bao-luh)



6. What’s good to eat?

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



7. How much (does it cost)?

Duōshǎo qián (doo-shao gee-en)



8. What is this?

Zhè shì shénme (juh she shen-muh)



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



  • 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


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