When you are visiting China or Taiwan, you will have lots of opportunities to sample the local cuisine. Since food is a national passion, there are restaurants and food stalls almost everywhere.
There are many different types of food available, from the various regional dishes of China, to Korean, Japanese, and Western. Fast food outlets are in all major cities, and there are also upscale restaurants specializing in Western food – Italian seems to be the most popular.
When you enter a restaurant, you will be asked how many people are in your party, and will be shown to a table. If an English menu is not available, and you don't read Chinese, you will have to ask for help, either from the waiter or a Chinese friend.
Most restaurants are open only during meal times – 11:30 to 1:00 for lunch and 5:30 to 7:00 for dinner. Snacks are available almost any time at coffee houses, tea shops, and street vendors.
Meals are eaten relatively quickly, and it is customary to leave the restaurant as soon as everyone is finished. Usually one person will pay for the whole group, so be sure to take your turn in paying for the meal.
Tipping is not common in either Taiwan or China, and you usually pay for the meal at the cash register.
Here are some phrases to help you order food in a restaurant. Click on the link in the Pinyin column to hear the pronunciation.
English Pinyin Traditional Characters Simplified Characters
How many people are there? Qǐngwèn jī wèi? 請問幾位? 请问几位?
There are ___ people (in our party). ___ wèi. ___ 位｡ ___ 位｡
Smoking or non-smoking? Chōuyān ma? 抽煙嗎? 抽烟吗?
Are you ready to order? Kěyǐ diǎn cài le ma? 可以點菜了嗎? 可以点菜了吗?
Yes, we are ready to order. Wǒmen yào diǎn cài. 我們要點菜｡ 我们要点菜｡
Not yet, please give us a few more minutes. Hái méi. Zài děng yīxià. 還沒. 再等一下｡ 还没. 再等一下｡
I would like … . Wǒ yào … . 我要… 我要… .
I will have this. Wǒ yào zhègè. 我要這個｡ 我要这个｡
That is for me. Shì wǒde. 是我的｡ 是我的｡
This is not what I ordered. Zhè búshì wǒ diǎn de. 這不是我點的｡ 这不是我点的｡
Please bring us some… . Qǐng zài gěi wǒmen … . 請再給我們…｡ 请再给我们…｡
Could I have the bill? Qǐng gěi wǒ zhàngdān. 請給我帳單｡ 请给我帐单｡
How much is it? Duōshǎo qián? 多少錢? 多少钱?
Can I pay by credit card? Wǒ kěyǐ yòng xìnyòngkǎ ma? 我可以用信用卡嗎? 我可以用信用卡吗?
The bill is not right. Zhàngdān bùduì. 帳單不對｡ 帐单不对｡