Chinese Take Out Menu Translator

Chinese Take Out
Lauri Patterson / Getty Images


Egg Rolls 
Very popular in the west although not eaten in China, egg rolls are a larger, bulkier version of Spring rolls.  They are normally filled with barbecued pork or shrimp - vegetables can include cabbage, celery, suey choy, and/or bean sprouts.

Spring Rolls
A lighter, more delicate version of egg rolls, made with a flour and water wrapper (no egg).  Like egg rolls, spring rolls are deep-fried.    

Deep Fried Wontons
Wonton wrappers filled with ground pork and a variety of vegetables and seasonings before deep-frying.  

Crab Rangoon
A variation on deep-fried wontons that has become very popular in some parts of the United States, although it is not an authentic Chinese appetizer.  The wontons are stuffed with crab, cream cheese and scallions before deep-frying.      

Salt & Pepper Spare Ribs

This is one of the most popular rib type dishes in Chinese restaurants. The ribs will have been marinaded for many hours and slow cooked with the marinade for two to three hours until the meat on the ribs is tender and soft. The ribs are then deep fried so they will be slightly crispy on the outside and tender and soft in the inside but still full of fragrance.

Vegetable Spring Rolls

Vegetarian spring rolls are just as delicious as their meat counterparts. This recipe for vegetarian spring rolls should include many different kinds of vegetable including shiitake mushrooms, carrots, cabbage, spring onions and more. The filling is usually accompanied with bean curd or tofu and mung bean or cellophane noodles.

Satay Chicken on Skewers

Chicken breast of legs marinaded in peanut flavour satay sauce for hours before being grilled on a grill. These can be absolutely delicious. Some version of Satay chicken can be a little bit spicy but it depends on the restaurant or take away. This dish is originally from Malysia but it’s become popular in Chinese takeaways nowadays.

These are very popular snacks in a lot of spaces. They are made of starch with (usually) prawn flavouring. They are crispy, crunch and light. They can arrive in different colours including white, pink and orange.

More Restaurant Definitions Below Soup 

Egg Drop Soup 
A classic dish -  flavored chicken broth or stock topped with silken threads of egg. It usually includes a green onion garnish, and sometimes frozen peas are added to the stock. 

Hot and Sour Soup
Regional variations of this soup are found throughout China.  All contain bean curd, Chinese black mushrooms and usually pork, but the remaining ingredients can vary. I think it tastes best when chicken stock is added.   

There are different versions of hot and sour soup. This dish can be vegetarian while some people add chicken or pork in this soup. But generally this soup contains, julienned carrot, wood ear, julienned tofu and eggs.

Wonton Soup
The word wonton translates into "swallowing a cloud" and in this dish the wontons floating in the soup do resemble tiny clouds.  The wontons are filled with a mixture of meat (usually pork) and seasonings and boiled, and then added to a stock. 

Chicken and sweet corn soup

Chicken stock with creamed sweet corn, sweet corn kernels and eggs. The texture of this soup is often thick as it’s usually thickened with corn flour. It’s a soup that’s easy to eat with a mellow, sweet flour. Other versions of this soup are crab meat sweet corn and ham sweet corn soup.

Main Dishes 

Crispy shredded beef in chilli sauce

This dish is deep fried shredded beef coated with sweet chili sauce. You can ask the restaurant or take away that served you dish to separate the sauce so you can dip your beef in the sauce and decide how much sauce you want.

Beef with green peppers in black bean sauce

Stir fried sliced beef with green peppers in black bean sauce. Some version of this dish can contain other colours of peppers and some chefs like to add water chestnuts to this dish.

Sweet and sour prawns

A version of this dish is deep-fried prawns coated with sweet and sour sauce. Another version of this dish is stir-fried prawns coated with sweet and sour sauce.

Prawns with pineapple

This dish is deep fried prawns coated with sweet mayonnaise mixed with pineapple. This is an absolutely delicious dish.

King prawn fried rice

King prawns, peas and carrot in egg fried rice. This fried rice dish could contain different vegetable including sweet corn, pepper or lettuce. Contact the restaurant or take away for more information.

Lamb in black pepper sauce

Stir fried lamb slices with different vegetables and mixed with black pepper sauce. The vegetables usually include sliced onions and peppers.

Ants Climbing Trees (Ants Creeping on Trees, Ants Climbing a Hill, Ma Yi Shang Shu)
This is a very flavorful, albeit spicy, Szechuan dish in which marinated pork is cooked in a spicy sauce and served over cellophane (bean thread) noodles.

Bang Bang Ji (Hot Chicken Salad)  
Chicken breasts are cut into matchstick sized pieces and served on a sheet of green bean paste. Made with hot chili oil.

Beef in Oyster Sauce
The savory flavor of oyster sauce works well with beef. In this recipe beef is thinly sliced and then marinated with several ingredients that generally include sherry, soy sauce, cornstarch and perhaps sugar. The beef is stir-fried or deep-fried and then a "gravy" or sauce that includes oyster sauce is added. 

Beef with Broccoli
Marinated beef is stir-fried and then mixed with stir-fried vegetables - the whole is covered with a thickish brown sauce or gravy that may include oyster sauce.  

Beggar's Chicken
Stuffed chicken is wrapped in a dough and baked.

Cheng Du Chicken (Chili Chicken Cubes)
A classic Szechuan dish. Cubed chicken breasts are marinated and deep-fried; the sauce includes hot bean sauce, freshly ground Szechuan pepper, sugar, and vinegar.

Chow Fun 
Rice Noodles.

Chow Mein (Fried noodles)
In this dish the noodles and vegetables are stir-fried separately and added back together at the end of the cooking process.  The noodles can be soft or crispy depending on how long they are cooked in oil.  Also, chow mein can be made with either thick or thin noodles. There is a gravy, either added to the noodles while they are stir-frying or at the final stage of cooking. Chicken is a popular meat to use in chow; shrimp or pork are used as well.  

Crispy Skin Duck (Xang Su Ya)
An interesting dish - the duck is steamed, while the skin is deep-fried.

Dou Ban Yu
Fish in Hot Sauce.

Dry Garlic Spareribs
Spareribs are simmered twice - the second time in a flavorful sauce that includes brown sugar and dry mustard.

Fried Rice
Cold, previously cooked rice is combined with scrambled egg and other ingredients to add texture and flavor.  Restaurants offer a number of fried rice dishes, from beef, chicken or shrimp to mushroom or popular dishes such as Yangchow Fried Rice. 

General Tsao's Chicken 
Chicken cubes coated in cornstarch and deep-fried, cooked with a sauce that includes hoisin sauce, dark soy sauce and chili peppers.

Ginger Beef
Thin strips of beef are marinated in ginger juice, covered in a batter, deep-fried and coated with a sweet sauce.  Restaurants often deep-fry the beef twice to make it extra crispy. Authentic ginger beef will be dryer and less sweet than the popular restaurant dish.  

Kung Pao Chicken (Kung Pao Chi Ting)
Deep-fried diced chicken and roasted peanuts; a spicy dish made with chili peppers.

Kung Pao Ming Har
A similar dish, made with shrimp instead of chicken.

Lemon Chicken (Ling Mung Gai)
Batter-coated, deep-fried chicken with lemon.

Lo Mein
Tossed Noodles - unlike chow mein, where the noodles are stir-fried separately, the noodles are tossed and blended with the stir-fry mixture.  They have more of a sauce than chow mein noodles.


Ma Po Tou Fu (Marpoo Dofu)
Spicy pork with aromatic bean curd.

Moo Goo Gai Pan
Stir-fried chicken and mushrooms.

Mu Shu Pork (Moo Shu Pork, Moo Shi Pork)
Stir-fried marinated pork mixed with bits of scrambled egg, tree ears and lily buds.   Normally served with mandarin pancakes. The dish is supposed to represent a colorful forest, with the pancakes forming the ground or base. 

Princess Chicken, Empress Chicken
Another interesting dish - chicken wings stuffed with mushrooms and bamboo shoots (ham is sometimes included).

Salt and Pepper Squid
Squid rings are coated with a salt and pepper mixture and deep-fried. Salt and toasted Szechuan peppercorns are always found in the salt and pepper mix; toasted black peppercorns and chili flakes may be added. In restaurants, the dish is frequently finished by stir-frying the squid with onion and a mix of bell peppers and hot red chili peppers. 

Sweet and Sour Pork (Wu Lo Yuk, Ku Lu Jou)
Marinated pork deep-fried in batter (some versions use less batter than others), with a sweet and sour sauce.  

Twice Cooked Pork (Hui Guo Rou, Hui kuo jou)
From Szechuan - boiled pork is then stir-fried with vegetables and a spicy sauce that includes chili paste.

Yangzhou Fried Rice
This is a very colorful fried rice dish, made with shrimp or prawns and ham or barbecued pork. Chicken is sometimes added as well.  Vegetables include peas, green onions and perhaps carrots for color. 

Edited by Liv Wan