Learn Chinese | Ordering in a Restaurant | Chinese for Beginners | HSK 1 – HSK 2

Understanding how to place a restaurant order is a fundamental but crucial skill whether visiting or living in China. It will not only make your eating experience more enjoyable, but it can also give you access to a world of gastronomic delights that you might not otherwise have. This article aims to teach beginners some basic phrases and vocabulary used when dining out in China, suitable for HSK levels 1 and 2.

Key Vocabulary

  1. 餐厅 (cān tīng) – restaurant
  2. 菜单 (cài dān) – menu
  3. 点菜 (diǎn cài) – to order food
  4. 饮料 (yǐn liào) – beverage
  5. 服务员 (fú wù yuán) – waiter/waitress
  6. 水 (shuǐ) – water
  7. 米饭 (mǐ fàn) – rice
  8. 鱼 (yú) – fish
  9. 肉 (ròu) – meat
  10. 鸡 (jī) – chicken
  11. 牛肉 (niú ròu) – beef
  12. 猪肉 (zhū ròu) – pork
  13. 饺子 (jiǎo zi) – dumplings
  14. 请 (qǐng) – please
  15. 谢谢 (xiè xiè) – thank you
  16. 结账 (jié zhàng) – check/bill

Basic Phrases for Ordering in a Restaurant

Asking for a menu:

    • 请给我菜单。(Qǐng gěi wǒ cài dān.) – Please give me the menu.

Ordering food:

    • 我要点菜。(Wǒ yào diǎn cài.) – I want to order food.
    • 我要这个。(Wǒ yào zhège.) – I want this (pointing at the menu).

Specific food orders:

    • 我要一份鸡肉。(Wǒ yào yī fèn jī ròu.) – I’d like a serving of chicken.
    • 请给我两碗米饭。(Qǐng gěi wǒ liǎng wǎn mǐ fàn.) – Please give me two bowls of rice.

Asking for recommendations:

    • 有什么推荐的吗?(Yǒu shén me tuī jiàn de ma?) – Do you have any recommendations?

Checking on the order:

    • 我的菜准备好了吗?(Wǒ de cài zhǔn bèi hǎo le ma?) – Is my food ready?

Requesting the bill:

    • 请给我结账。(Qǐng gěi wǒ jié zhàng.) – Please give me the bill/check.

Expressing gratitude:

    • 谢谢您的服务。(Xiè xiè nín de fú wù.) – Thank you for your service.

Tips for Dining in China

  1. Tipping is not customary: In most restaurants in China, tipping is not a common practice. Your appreciation is often shown through polite words and gestures.
  2. Sharing is common: Chinese dining culture emphasizes sharing dishes. Large communal plates are placed in the center of the table, and everyone takes from them.
  3. Tea is customary: It’s common for restaurants to serve tea as the default beverage. If you prefer water or another drink, make sure to specify.


Ordering in a Chinese restaurant might initially seem intimidating, but with a handful of basic phrases, you can confidently navigate the experience. Practice the above phrases and vocabulary; soon, you’ll enjoy Chinese cuisine like a local! Remember, like any language, practice and real-life applications will help reinforce your learning. 

FAQ: Ordering in a Chinese Restaurant for Beginners (HSK 1 – HSK 2)

Q1: I’m a vegetarian. How do I express that in Chinese?

A1: You can say “我是素食者” (Wǒ shì sùshí zhě), which means “I am a vegetarian.”

Q2: What if I have a food allergy?

A2: If you have a specific allergy, you can state the item followed by “我对…过敏” (Wǒ duì… guòmǐn), meaning “I am allergic to…”. For example, “我对花生过敏” (Wǒ duì huāshēng guòmǐn) means “I am allergic to peanuts.”

Q3: How do I ask for spicy or non-spicy food?

A3: For spicy, you can say “我要辣的” (Wǒ yào là de). For non-spicy, you can say “我不要辣的” (Wǒ búyào là de).

Q4: How do I ask if they have a specific dish or ingredient?

A4: You can ask “你们有…吗?” (Nǐmen yǒu… ma?), which means “Do you have…?”. Just insert the dish or ingredient name in the place of the ellipsis.

Q5: How do I request for more water or tea?

A5: For water, you can say “请给我多一些水” (Qǐng gěi wǒ duō yīxiē shuǐ), meaning “Please give me more water.” For tea, replace “水” (shuǐ) with “茶” (chá) to say “请给我多一些茶” (Qǐng gěi wǒ duō yīxiē chá).

Q6: How do I ask about the price of a dish?

A6: You can ask “这个多少钱?” (Zhège duōshǎo qián?), meaning “How much is this?”

Q7: What’s the polite way to get the attention of a waiter/waitress?

A7: You can say “服务员” (Fú wù yuán), which means “waiter/waitress.” It’s the standard way to call for service in a restaurant.

Q8: How do I ask for a take-out or to-go box?

A8: You can say “我可以打包吗?” (Wǒ kěyǐ dǎbāo ma?), meaning “Can I take this to-go?” or “Can I get this packed?”

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Remember that communication is essential; even if you don’t have flawless pronunciation, most restaurant personnel will respect your attempt to speak to them in their language. If unsure, feel free to make gestures or point at the menu. The most essential thing is to enjoy the meal and the experience!

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