5 Restaurant Related Phrases I Need to Learn, Please Help!

On occasion I can be a terribly fussy eater, therefore living in China may at times be a struggle when it comes to food.

Here’s 5 phrases I want to learn and memorise as I’ll probably need to use them on a regular basis. I need your help to translate them properly so I don’t sound like an even more annoying customer using poor Chinese.

Though if the menu doesn't have pictures it's inevitable I'll be a nuisance.

Please feel free to adjust them to make them sound more native if direct translations don’t quite work.

How do you say…

1) Is there bones in this dish?

Yes believe it or not I’m not a fan of eating meat or fish with bones. I don’t enjoy the effort of fiddling around with my food trying to bite and tear off meat, and I don’t know if I’ll ever master how Chinese people eat.

I’ve seen my girlfriend put a whole chicken wing or foot in her mouth and within seconds have all bones come right back out, completely stripped. It’s like a magic trick.

2) Can you make it extra spicy please

I’m a sucker for spicy food, the hotter the better, so this is definitely a phrase I want to learn when I’m choosing spicy dishes.

My favourite thing about Chongqing was eating super hot food every day. The only time it was too hot to handle was when I experienced a moment of bravery and ate pigs brain, the sauce the brain was swimming in blew my head off and my tongue felt like it had suffered severe burns for the whole of the next day.

3) Can you wrap this up for me to take home?

Sometimes known as a doggy bag in restaurants.

During my last trip to China I saw on a number of occasions my girlfriends parents having food boxed up for them to take home.

As my accommodation weirdly won’t have a kitchen, and because my stomach is pretty small, I’ll need to frequently request this. Sure I’ll have to eat it cold, but for 小吃 that’s not a problem.

4) What part of the animal is in this dish?

I do have an adventurous side and I’m willing to try new things, but like everyone, sometimes I want to make sure I order something that I know I’ll be able eat to satisfy my hunger.

I’m thinking this might come in useful when I am able to recognise a character on the menu which identifies what the animal I’m about to eat is, but need to verify it’s not intestine, tongue, feet, etc, etc.

5) Could I have some napkins please

Ok I’m being a little bit lazy with this one. I wanted to make a list of 5 phrases but couldn’t think of a solid fifth. So basically I’d like to know how to say napkins in Chinese!

Please comment below with your suggestions

Rather than asking my girlfriend I’d like to ask you guys and girls, that way I can impress (or more likely embarrass) her when we go out to eat together.

I really appreciate your comments and perhaps other learners could add their own requests as well.

2 thoughts on “5 Restaurant Related Phrases I Need to Learn, Please Help!

  1. Reply Speak Up Chinese Feb 16,2015 9:08 pm

    Simon –

    Here are the phrases translated as native speakers say them:

    1) 这个菜里有骨头吗?/ Zhège cài li yǒu gǔtou ma?

    2) 请多加辣 / Qǐng duōjiā là (literally, “please add more spice”).
    OR in the situation you describe, you might be bold enough to ask for it to be the “most spicy” possible:
    “这个菜辣妈?我要加最辣 / Zhège cài là mā? Wǒ yào jiā zuì là

    3) 能打包吗?
    Néng dǎbāo ma?

    4) 这个菜是动物的哪个部分做的?
    Zhège cài shì dòngwù de nǎge bùfèn zuò de?

    5) 请给我些纸巾。
    Qǐng gěi wǒ xiē zhǐjīn.
    (纸巾 = napkin)

    Hope it helps!

  2. Reply Simon Feb 16,2015 10:04 pm

    Thanks a lot! Wasn’t expecting there to be a word to perfectly describe number 3. Very cool to know

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