Learning Chinese – Takeout Menu 2

Continuing on from the last post (which only covered the first page!), today we continue with the rest of the menu, with some actual food items.

類 – lèi – type, variety, kind. In a lot of Chinese menus we will see different sections for different types of food, and these sections are usually labeled something-類. In the case of this particular menu, 類 appears in 餛飩類, i.e. that section is all about the wontons.

麵 – miàn – in Chinese menus, this refers to noodles. The character itself is often used in combination with another to form a compound term that usually has something to do with wheat, i.e. 麵包 (bread) or 麵粉 (flour). Note that the left part of the character is also the character for wheat, 麥 (though this character can be used for other grains as well). The right part is 面 (face, also pronounced miàn), and is probably there for phonetic purposes.

素菜 – sùcài – vegetarian dish. 素 is vegetable, plain, simple. 菜 is also vegetable, usually referring to some kind of greens. It can also mean dish or cuisine, i.e. 這個菜很好吃 or 我喜歡日本菜.

西洋菜 – xīyáng cài – watercress. 西洋 is Western, i.e. Western (white) people. I don’t know why watercress is called “western vegetable”; perhaps it was introduced to China from the West (or not).

酸辣 – suān là – literally sour-hot, i.e. hot and sour. I guess “hot and sour soup” sounds better than “sour and hot soup”. The radical for 辣 is 辛, and I like how it actually looks like a pepper in the character.

併雪菜肉絲麵 – bìng xuěcài ròusī miàn – 併 is combine, 雪菜肉絲麵 is pickled-cabbage 雪菜 and shredded-pork 肉絲 noodles. This entry appears after a smaller order of wontons to indicate that the smaller order is paired with (i.e. combined with) noodles on the side. 雪菜 is literally “snow vegetable”, and 肉絲 is literally “meat-strips” or “meat-threads”. My guess is that once the cabbage is pickled, it appears translucent like snow, hence the name. 絲 is also the word for silk, so the meat strips are finely cut like strands of silk. 雪菜肉絲 is a pretty common combination. In HK-style restaurants, you can often find it with rice noodles in soup for breakfast.

每打 – měi dá – normally 打 means hit, but in this context it means dozen and is pronounced differently. 每 is each, so 每打 is each dozen.

鮮肉餃 – xiānròu jiǎo – fresh meat dumpling.

Just from this little 餛飩類 section, I’ve gleaned 17 characters to practice. I’ll be writing each one out at least 10 times, there’s no other way around it. Until next time…