Ordering in China can be intimidating. Often there are no English Menus and even if you are lucky and there are a couple of pictures around, things still work differently, which often leads to confusion and nervous breakdowns.
But actually ones you know how things roll in a restaurant in China, live gets easy and impossibly delicious.
I often meet other foreigners who tell me how they don’t like chinese food or always get very strange stuff. Now I think if you know where to look and what you like, there is something delicious for every taste. Sure one needs to be a bit adventures. I always like to say it’s playing Chinese Roulette. 50/50 chance that it is either something great or something strange 😉
But then even the strange stuff can be quite delicious. It is all about having an open mind.
Let’s try to improve your guessing rates and help you get great food. So that you can truly enjoy the awesome treats China has to offer.
And also how you order and also some of the typical table etiquette in a restaurant.
But before you actually pick a restaurant, always look for one that is busy. The more locals usually the better the food and also the ordering gets easier for you, see tip Nr. 4.
Let’s start! Here are my top tips for how to get what you want in a Chinese Restaurant.
- First you need to get attention. You’ve sat down? Scream for the waitress. If you just wink them or try to catch their eyes it won’t work. The loudest wins, scream all over the place. Trust me it works. The same goes when you want your bill by the way or anything else…Forget proper rules, dare to be loud. The others will too.
- Don’t think that the food descriptions are making sense. Three treasures? Well those would be potatoes, aubergine and green pepper. Big Mess seems to be a chicken stew chopped up into the weirdest pieces. You will most likely find a chicken head. So even when you translate all the characters with your apps, it might not help you in understanding what the dish is. Which gets me to the next step.
- Find the English Describtion of dishes you used to like and eat at home or maybe just some that sound delicious to you. Write them in a small book and show them to the waiter. Otherwise just look up certain meats and vegetables you like and ask the waiter to show you the dishes with these. Take your pick and bad suprises are a lot less likely
- Walk around the Restaurant and look what everybody else ordered. It might seem weird at first to just stare at what everybody else eats, but that way you see the end results, which makes ordering just so much easier.
- Maybe your not there to peak times or the food doesn’t appeal to you. Some restaurants have the ingredients outside or in a special chamber, this way you see what is all there and you pick the main ingredients. Sure the endproduct is still a suprise, but at least one thing you like will be in the dish 😉
- Rice and Noodles always come last. If you want it with the normal dishes, then you have to ask for it.
- Usually one orders one more dish then there are people. For example 5 people means usually 3-4 meat dishes and 2 vegetable dishes and one soup. This way there is defitly enough to eat for everybody and enough choices.
- If there is too much, simply ask for a take-away. It is fairly common to do so, even in good restaurants. The waiter will bring several plastic bags, just take whatever you like home. Wasting food is never a good thing 😉
- Before you eat, maybe swipe your dishes or as most chinese do, use the hot water at the table to clean them. They are usually all clean, but often packed into plastic while still moist. So just to be on the safe side, cleaning them just will make you feel a bit better^^
After your finished call loudly for the bill or better go to the counter if there is one. Depending on the restaurant you might have to pay upfront. Don’t make life to complicated and try to pay seperate. They usually don’t accept this. Pay together and split the cost afterwards under yourselves.
With all of these little tips the visit to any chinese restaurant should be absolutely manageable and I am sure you will discover some amazing dishes^^.
Do you have any other tips or maybe questions about how to get what you want in a Chinese restaurant? Leave a comment or comment anyway if you liked this post. Let me know what you want to hear next or maybe even just let me know if you appreciated it 😉