Basic Mandarin Food and Restaurant Vocabulary

Basic Mandarin Food and Restaurant Vocabulary
by Alex Evins (v.12/23)

Pinyin and phonetic pronunctions for the English speaker are provided below for common Chinese foods. When using pinyin, remember that:

Zh = J (e.g. Shenzhen = “Shen-jen”) | Q = Ch (e.g. Qingdao = “Ching-dao”) | X = Sh (ex. Xi’an = “She-ahn”)

Dumplings – Jiǎozi (“jiao’zuh”)

Boiled – shuǐjiǎo (“schway jee’ow”) (lit. “water dumpling”)

Steamed – zhēng jiǎo (“jung’jee’ow”)

Pan Fried – jiān jiǎo (“jien’jee’ow”)

Potstickers – guōtiē (“gwoah’tieh”)

Soup – tāng jiǎo (“tahng’jee’ow”)

Sour Soup Dumplings (Xi’an)suān tāng shuǐjiǎo (“swan’tahng schway’jee’ow”)

Wonton – húntún (“hu’en tu’en”) / yún tūn (“yun tu’en”)

Wonton (Sichuan)chāoshǒu (“chow’show”)

Chili/Red Oil Wontons – hóng yóu chāoshǒu (“hung’yo chow’show”)

Buns – Bāozi (“bow’zuh”) (More Info)

Plain Unfilled Steamed Bun – mántou (“man’toe”)

Plain Unfilled Fried “Golden” Bun – huángjīn mántou (“hwahng’jin man toe”)

Lotus Leaf Bun – hé yè bāo (“huuh yi’eh bow”)

Pork Belly Bun (Fuzhou)gē bāo (“guh bow”)

Small Bun – xiǎobāo (“shiao’bow”)

Giant Bun –  dà bāo (“dah’bow”)

Water Fried Bun – shui’jian bao (“schway’jien bow”)

Soup Filled Bun – guàn tāng bāo (“guan tahng bow”)

Soup “Dumpling” (Steamed)xiǎo lóng bāo (“shiao’long bow”)

Soup “Dumpling” (Giant)dà tāng bāo (“dah tahng’bow”)

Soup Bun (Pan Fried)shēng jiān bāo (“shung’jien bow”)

Soup Bun (Leavened/Wuhan)xiǎo lóng tāng bāo (“shiao long tahng’bow”)

BBQ Pork Bun (Steamed)chāshāo bāo (“cha’shao bow”)

BBQ Pork Bun (Baked)chāshāo cān bāo (“cha’shao chahn bow”)

Rice – Mǐfàn (“mee fahn”)

Congee (Rice Porridge)zhōu (“joe”)

Fried Rice – chǎofàn (“chow fahn”)

Sweet Rice Balls – tāngyuán (“tahng'yuen”)

Fried Glutinous Rice Balls – táng yóu guǒzi (“tahng'yo gwoah’zuh”)

Bread – Bǐng (“bing”)

Chinese “Crepe/Pancake” – jiānbing (“jien’bing”)

Chinese “Hamburger” – ròu jiā mó (“roe’jiah’moah”)

ròu jiā bǐng (“roe’jiah bing”)

Stuffed Pie – xiàn bǐng (“she’en bing”)

Meat Pie – ròu bǐng (“roe bing”)

Doornail Pattie – méndīng ròu bǐng (“mending roe bing”)

Guokui (Sweet/Savory Flatbread)guōkuī (“gwoah'kwhey”)

Mooncake – yuèbǐng (“yueh bing”)

Scallion Pancake – cōng yóubǐng (“chong’yo bing”)

Spring Pancake (Peking Duck)chūnbǐng (“chwun bing”)

Stuffed Layered Flatbread – shāobǐng (“shao bing”)

Youtiao (Savory Fried Dough Stick)yóutiáo (“yo tee’ow”)

Meat – Ròu (“roe”)

Beef – niúròu (“neoh’roe”)

Pork – zhūròu (“jew’roe”)

Chicken – jīròu (“jee’roe”)

Egg – jīdàn (“jee’dahn”)

Mutton – yángròu (“yahng’roe”)

Duck – yā ròu (“ya’roe”)

Roast Duck – kǎoyā (“cow’ya”)

Century Egg – pīdàn (“pee dahn”)

Skewer – kǎoròu chuàn (“cow roe chwan”)

Seafood – Hǎixiān (“high she’en”)

Fish – yúròu (“yu’roe”)

Fish Ball – yúwán (“yu’won”)

Shrimp – xiā (“she’ah”)

Mantis Shrimp – lài niào xiā (“lie neow she’ah”)

Squid – wūzéi (“woo zay”)

Lobster – lóngxiā (“long she’ah”)

Crab – pángxiè (“pahng shieh”)

Hairy Crab – dàzháxiè (“da’ja shieh”)

Oyster – mǔlì (“moo lee”)

Raw Oyster – shēngháo (“shung how”)

Cantonese Dim Sum / Yum Cha – Guǎng Shì Diǎnxīn (“guang she dee’en shin”)

BBQ Pork Bun (Baked)chāshāo cān bāo (“cha’shao chahn bao”)

BBQ Pork Bun (Steamed)chāshāo bāo (“cha’shao bao”)

Chaozhou Fun Guo (Chiu Chow Dumpling)cháozhōu fěn guǒ (“chow-joe fun gwo'ah”)

Chicken Feet – fèng zhuǎ (“fung j’wah”)

Durian Bun – liúlián bāo (“leo lee’en bao”)

Egg Custard Bun – nǎi huáng bāo (“nai’hwahng bao”)

Salted Egg Yolk "Lava" Buns – liúshā bāo (“lioh’sha bao”)

Egg Tart – dàntà (“dahn tah”)

Ham Sui Gok (Fried Glutinous Rice Dumpling)xiánshuǐ jiǎo (“she’en schway jee’ow”)

Har Gow (Shrimp Dumpling)xiā jiǎo (“shah’jee’ow”)

Lo Mai Gai (Lotus Leaf Sticky Rice)nuòmǐ jī (“no me jee”)

Pan Fried Chive Dumplings – shēng jiān jiǔcài jiǎo (“shung’jien jee'oh chai jee’ow”)

Pineapple Bun – bōluó bāo (“boo’luah bao”)

Rice Noodle Rolls – cháng fěn (“chaang fen”)

Rice Roll with Youtiao – zhà liǎng (“jah li’ahng”)

Red Rice Roll with Shrimp – jīnshā hóng mǐ cháng fěn (“jinsha hohng me chaang fen”)

Sesame Ball – jiān duī (“jien’dway”)

Shumai – shāo mài (“shao’mai”)

Steamed Spare Ribs – zhēng páigǔ (“jung pie goo”)

Stuffed Peppers – niàng làjiāo (“knee’ahng lah’jee’ow”)

Taro Cake – yùtóu gāo (“yu tow gao”)

Taro Dumpling – yù jiǎo (“yu jee’ow”)

Turnip/Raddish Cake – luóbo gāo (“low bow gao”)

Other Common Dishes

Hot Pot – huǒguō (“hwo’ah gwo’ah”)

Tofu – dòufu (“doh foo”)

Mapo Tofu – má pó dòufu (“mah poe doh foo”)

Stinky Tofu – chòu dòufu (“cho doh foo”)

Beverages – Yǐnliào (“yin lay'ow”)

Bottled Water – píngzhuāng shuǐ (“ping jew’ahng schway”)

# Bottle(s) of Water – # píng shuǐ (“ping schway”)

Bottled Mineral Water – kuàngquán shuǐ (“k’wahng chew’en schway”)

Iced Tea – bīng chá (“bing cha”)

Iced Red Tea – bīng hóngchá (“bing hohng cha”)

Bubble Tea – zhēnzhū nǎichá (“jen jew nai cha”)

Bubble Milk Tea – bōbà nǎichá (“bow bah nai cha”)

Alcohol – Jiǔ (“jew”)

Beer – píjiǔ (“pee jee’oh”)

Chinese Distilled Spirit/"Wine" – báijiǔ (“bye jee’oh”) (lit. “white liquor”)

Chinese Rice Wine – huángjiǔ (“h’wahng jee’oh”) (lit. “yellow liquor”)

Cheers!  – gānbēi (“gahn bay”)

Restaurant Terms

Napkins – cānjīn (“tahn gin”)

Chopsticks – kuàizi (“k’why zuh”)

Glass/Cup – bēizi (“bay zuh”)

Waiter/Waitress – fúwùyuán (“foo-woo you’en”)

Menu – càidān (“thai dahn”)

Check/Bill – mǎidān (“my dahn”)

Credit Card – xìnyòngkǎ (“she yuhng kah”)

Descriptors

Great – tài hǎole (“thai how luh”)

Awesome – tài bàngle (“thai bahng luh”)

Tastes Great – wèidào hào jíle (“way dao how jee’luh”)

Delicious – hěn hào chī (“hun how chew”)

Very Delicious – hào chī jíle (“how chew jee’luh”)

So Delicious – tài hào chīle (“thai how chew luh”)

So F-ing Good – tài tā mā hǎole (“thai tah mah how luh”)

Smells Good – hǎo xiāng a (“how she’ahng ah”)

So Fragrant – tài xiāngle (“thai she’ahng luh”)

I Am Full – chī bǎole (“chew bao luh”)

Noodles – Miàntiáo (“me’en te’ow”)

Wheat Noodle – miàn (“me’en”)

Non-Wheat Noodles – fēn (“fen”)

Rice Noodles – mǐxiàn (“me she’en”)

Rice Noodles (Vermicelli) – mǐfěn (“me fen”)

Rice Noodles (Wide) – shāhé fěn (“sha huuh fen”)

Egg Noodles – jīdàn miàn (“jidan me’en”)

Hand Pulled Noodles – lāmiàn (“lah me’en”)

Hand Torn Noodles – miàn piàn (“me’en pee’en”)

Knife Cut/Shaved Noodles – dāoxiāomiàn (“dao she’ow me’en”)

Stir Fried Noodles – chǎomiàn (“chow me’en”)

Noodle Soup – tāngmiàn (“tahng me’en”)

Common Regional Noodle Dishes

Beijing

Soybean Paste Noodles – zhá jiàng miàn (“ja’jiahng me’en”)

Shanghai

Scallion Oil Noodle – cōng yóu miàn (“chong’yo me’en”)

Sesame Noodles – májiàng miàn (“mah’jiahng me’en”)

Nanjing

Duck Blood Noodle Soup – yā xiě fěnsī tāng (“ya shieh fensue tahng”)

Chengdu

Twice Cooked Pork Noodles – huíguōròu miàn (“h’way gwoah’roe me’en”)

Dan Dan Noodles – dàndàn miàn (“dahn dahn me’en”)

Yibin Burning Noodles – Yíbīn rán miàn (“ee bin ran me’en”)

Sweet Water Noodles – tián shuǐmiàn (“tee’en schway me’en”)

Cold Skin Noodles – liángpí (“li’ahng pee”)

Chongqing

Chongqing/Little Noodles – xiǎo miàn (“shiao me’en”)

Hot and Sour Potato Noodles – suān là fěn (“swan lah fen”)

Xi’an

Biang Biang (Broad Noodle) – biángbiáng miàn (“bee’ahng bee’ahng me’en”)

Oil Splashing Noodles – yóu pō miàn (“yo poo'ah me’en”)

Guangzhou/Hong Kong

Rice Noodle Rolls – cháng fěn (“chaang fen”)

Wonton Noodles – yún tūn miàn (“yun tu’en me’en”)

Shrimp Roe Noodles – xiā zǐ miàn (“sha’zuh mian”)

Tossed Noodles – lāo miàn (“lao me’en”)

Soy Sauce (Fried) Noodles – chǐ yóu huáng chǎomiàn (“chee yo hwang chow me’en”)

Long Life (Egg) Noodles – yī miàn (“yee me’en”)

Other

Any: Fried Sauce Noodles – zhá jiàng miàn (“ja’jiahng me’en”)

Fujian: Misua – miàn xiàn (“me’en she’en”)

Guilin: Rice Noodles – Guìlín mǐfěn (“Gwee’lin me fen”)

Hangzhou: ‘Blanched Slice’ Noodles – piān er chuān (“pee’en are chwan”)

Kunming: Crossing-the-Bridge Noodles  guò qiáo mǐxiàn (“gwoah chiow me she’en”)

Lanzhou: Hand-Pulled Noodles – lāmiàn (“lah me’en”)

Shanxi: Cat’s Ear Noodles – Māo ěrduǒ (“mao are duah”)

Oat Noodles – yóu miàn kǎolǎo lǎo (“yo me’en cow lao lao”)

Wuhan: Hot Dry Noodles – rè gān miàn (“ruah’gahn me’en”)

Zhenjiang: Pot Lid Noodles – guō gài miàn (“gwoah guy me’en”)

Flavors – Wèidào (“weigh dow”)

Spicy – (“lah”)

Numbing Spicy – málà (“mah lah”)

Sichuan Peppercorn – huājiāo (“h’wah jee’ow”)

Sweet – tián (“tee’en”)

Salty – xián (“she’en”)

Bitter – (“kooh”)

Sour – suān (“swan”)

Cooking Preparations – Pēngrèn (“pung ren”)

Roasted – kǎo (“cow”)

Stir Fried – chǎo (“chow”)

Steamed – qīngzhēng (“ching jung”)

Braised – mèn (“mun”)

In Oil – yǒu (“yo”)

Soup – tāng (“tahng”)

Cold Dish – liángcài (“lee’ahng thai”)

Side Dish – xiǎocài (“she’ow thai”)

Sauces – Jiàng (“jee’ahng”)

Chili Sauce – làjiāo jiàng (“lah’jee’ow jee’ahng”)

Soy Sauce – jiàngyóu (“jee’ahng yo”)

Vinegar – (“two”)

Sesame Paste – zhīmajiàng (“juh’mah jee’ahng”)

Sizes

Small – xiǎo (“she’ow”)

Medium – zhōng (“jung”)

Large – (“dah”)

Quantities/Numbers

1 – (“yee”)

2 – liǎng (“lee’ang”)

3 – sān (“sahn”)

4 – (“su”)

5 – (“wu”)

Quantity/Size Suffixes

Item/Piece – -gè (“guh”)

Portion – -fèn (“fun”)

Cup/Glass – -bēi (“bay”)

Bottle – -píng (“ping”)

People – -rén (“rehn”)

Useful Restaurant Phrases

Just a moment please | 等一下

Qǐng děng yīxià

(“Ching dung yee’shah”)

[Please – qǐng (“ching”)]

Can you suggest some dishes? | 你能推荐一些菜吗?

Nǐ néng tuījiàn yīxiē cài ma

(“Knee nung twee jee’en yee she’ah thai mah”)

What do you suggest? | 你有什么建议?

Nǐ yǒu shé me jiànyì?

(“Knee yo shh’ma jee’ahn yee”)

What is this/that? | /是什么?

Zhè/ shì shénme

(“Juh/nah she shen mah”)

[This – zhège (“jih’guh”) / That – nàgè (“nih’guh”)]

I'll have… | 我要...

Wǒ yào

(“Woah yow”)

[Wǒ yào + [Number]-fèn + [Dish] = I would like __ orders of __ ]

[Wǒ yào  fèn zhège = I would like one order of this]

One More | 再来一个请

Zàilái yīgè

(“Zai lie yee’guh”)

How much is it? | 多少钱?

Duōshǎo qián

(“Duah shao chi’en”)

May I pay with a credit card? | 我能用信用卡支付吗?

Wǒ néng yòng xìnyòngkǎ zhīfù ma

(“Wǒ’nung yung she yuhng kah jifu’ma”)

Thanks / Thank you | 谢谢 / 谢谢你

Xièxiè / Xièxiè nǐ

(“sheh-sheh” / “sheh-sheh knee”)