Order Sichuan Food at Chinese Restaurants

Authors: Go Chengdu

2016-08-08

It is wise to learn something about how to order at restaurants in the city, and here are some suggestions.
Sichuan Cuisine made it a hit online during the third G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting, held July 23-24 in Chengdu, as Mapo Tofu and Double-cooked Pork Slices, two common homemade dishes in Sichuan, were the most popular orders among the guests at the event from all over the world. Chengdu is to host an increasing number of international events and welcome more and more visitors, and it is wise to learn something about how to order at restaurants in the city. Here are some suggestions.

Suggestion 1:
Know the name of some common Sichuan dishes:
Type
English Name
Chinese Name
Pinyin
Sanck
Hot pot
火锅
huǒ guō
Chuan Chuan
串串
chuàn chuàn
Pot Chicken
钵钵鸡
bō bō jī
Mao Cai
冒菜
mào cài
Staple Food
rice
米饭
mǐ fàn
fried rice
炒饭
chǎo fàn
Dandan noodles
担担面
dàn dàn miàn
Yibin spicy noodles
宜宾燃面
yíbīn rán miàn
sauce noodles
炸酱面
zhá jiàng miàn
Dessert
cold Jelly
冰粉
bīng fěn
cool cake
凉糕
liáng gāo
shredded starch
凉虾
liáng xiā
Popular Dish's Name
Mapo Tofu
麻婆豆腐
má pó dòu fu
Kung Pao Chicken
宫保鸡丁
gōng bǎo jī dīng
Fish-flavored Shredded Pork
鱼香肉丝
yú xiāng ròu sī

Kung Pao Chicken (Spicy diced chicken with peanuts)
Suggestion 2:
How to read menu
It will be nice if the menu has English translation. If not, you must know the general way to name local dishes: there are two parts in the names, the first part indicates the cooking methods — steaming, stir frying, boiling, braising etc., and the latter indicates the ingredients. Check it in your guidebooks and you could have what you want.
Suggestion 3:
Tips to order
  • You will be lucky if someone around you can speak Englsih and you can order what you want directly. But if there is no such person, you have another option — copy the order by your neighbors.
  • If the menu has pictures, just point to what you want.
  • Some tools are recommended: Google Tranlation or language translation App.
  • Try to learn some basic Chinese to order dishes or ask native people for help.
  • To get the best Chinese food, ask Chinese foodies: friends, colleagues, or people in the community who are interested in authentic flavors.
  • Remeber to remind the restaurant of the spicy level you want — light, medium or very spicy, even if they do not ask.
Common phrases to remind the restaurant
Phrase
Chinese
Pinyin
I don't want chilies.
我不要辣。
Wǒ bú yào là.
I don't want MSG.
我不要味精。
Wǒ bú yào wèijìng.
I don't want it too salty.
我不要太咸。
Wǒ bú yào tài xián.
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