Order Sichuan Food at Chinese Restaurants

Authors: Go Chengdu


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:
English Name
Chinese Name
Hot pot
huǒ guō
Chuan Chuan
chuàn chuàn
Pot Chicken
bō bō jī
Mao Cai
mào cài
Staple Food
mǐ fàn
fried rice
chǎo fàn
Dandan noodles
dàn dàn miàn
Yibin spicy noodles
yíbīn rán miàn
sauce noodles
zhá jiàng miàn
cold Jelly
bīng fěn
cool cake
liáng gāo
shredded starch
liáng xiā
Popular Dish's Name
Mapo Tofu
má pó dòu fu
Kung Pao Chicken
gōng bǎo jī dīng
Fish-flavored Shredded Pork
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
I don't want chilies.
Wǒ bú yào là.
I don't want MSG.
Wǒ bú yào wèijìng.
I don't want it too salty.
Wǒ bú yào tài xián.

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Gastronomic enthusiasts Marc (France) and Arturo (the US) came to Daronghe Restaurant in Chengdu to learn how to cook Mapo Tofu and Kung Pao Chicken.

Oct 15, 2014

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Don’t forget such important flavorings for Sichuan cuisine as the Pixian Chili Broad Bean Paste, Hot Pot condiments, snacks and relishes.

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Jason Logan: Chengdu has never grown old!

My family and I have lived in Chengdu for seven years now and have eaten quite a bit of Sichuan food, but dining here is always an adventure with new restaurants, spices, and dishes.

Jan 19, 2016

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