How to order food in a Chinese restaurant

There are two basic ways of ordering food in China. Try and guess which one I normally opt for.

Method One:

1. Enter restaurant. Listen to 16 waitresses shout “欢迎光临” down your ear.
2. Despite the fact that you have entered the restaurant by yourself, and there is nobody else near the establishment for another 15 miles, the waitress asks if you want a table for one.
3. Follow waitress to table. Wait five minutes while the waitress clears the mass of bones, spit, foetuses, lost scrolls, blood, and monkey claws from the table with an oily rag.
4. Place tissue paper on chair and sit down. Of the 27 waitresses who gather round your table, tell 26 of them to go away.
5. Within 0.00000000001 millisecond of sitting down, the waitress is hovering behind impatiently.
6. In impeccable Mandarin, ask for a menu. Repeat angrily when waitress giggles, looks away, and shouts to her colleagues that she doesn’t understand English.
7. Tell waitress you don’t want the most expensive items she is pointing to on the menu.
8. Tell the waitress to bring you a beer while waiting. When it arrives, send it back and ask for a cold one.
9. Send back the second bottle of warm beer that arrives, as well as the bucket of grey dubious ice that accompanies it. Ask for a different brand of beer that is refrigerated.
10. When the waitress asks if you would like to drink the beer opened or unopened, ask her to open it.
11. Choose meal.
12. Choose different meal when told they don’t have it.
13. Repeat stages 10 and 11 about three times.
14. Finally choose something they have and ask them not to put any egg in it.
15. Relax. All the time, a million million eyes are staring at you, spitting, and muttering: “laowailaowailaowailaowailaowai”.
16. When the waitress brings a knife and fork, shock her by saying that you can use chopsticks.
17. After 20 minutes ask what is happening with your meal.
18. After another 20 minutes receive meal, then send it back because it has egg in it.
19. Seven days after you entered the place, finally receive meal.
20. Pick out the stones and pubic hair.
21. Eat.
22. Halfway through your food, have your meal disturbed by the manager insisting on sitting down next to you and asking where you are from and if foreigners eat pork as well.
23. Laduzi break.
24. Ask 7 times for that last remaining dish  that never arrives.
25. Get told that they don’t stock, have never stocked and will never stock the missing last dish that you ordered.
26. Ask to pay the bill, then tell them to check again after they give you the wrong bill.
27. Try to pay for meal by credit card because the sign in the window says that they accept credit card. Get told they don’t accept card.
28. Shout at the cashier till they accept your credit card. Watch as they dig out a dusty old machine from the 1990s, swipe your card through it the wrong way four times, then tell you it is broken. Out of the corner of your eye notice that it isn’t even plugged in.
29. Give up and agree to pay by cash. However, you have no cash. Naturally there is no ATM nearby either so you have to leave your iPhone as a deposit while you walk 30 minutes to the nearest ATM and back.
30. Present cash.
31. Waitress asks if you have the correct change which you do not. Wait another 15 minutes while she goes down the street to find change.
32. Leave when 16 waitresses shout “谢谢光临” at you. Waitress 17 will shout “Bye bye!” instead and everybody will find it hilarious.
33. Realise later that all the change given to you is counterfeit.
34. Burn the place down. Then shit through the eye of a needle for two days afterwards.
35. Point 35? There is none. Just like this article.


Method Two:

1. Walk into McDonalds/KFC.
2. Point at what you want.
3. Eat and get the hell out.

HOWEVER!!! The times they are a changin’. Due to the most unharmonious decision by the UN against China in the South China Sea ruling, KFC is no longer the safe place to eat that it once was.


Hence, I am forced to add a fourth bullet point to Method Two which is:

  • Bring a weapon.

These gentlemen below have followed Meursault’s guide to eating in Chinese restaurants and they’re safe, happy, and most importantly, well fed.

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