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【Learn Chinese】Tableware in Chinese (Part 1)
When learning Chinese language, common vocabulary that we can use in daily life is one of the important sections. Let’s expand your Chinese vocabulary with words you encounter in the kitchen or restaurant every day and learn the names of tableware in Chinese!
In Chinese, a tableware is known as “餐具” (cānjù), where “餐” (cān) means “meal”, and “具” (jù) means “tools.”
01. Chopsticks
Chopsticks, or 筷子 (kuàizi) stand as a significant and symbolic element in Chinese dining culture. Chinese chopsticks often reflect the country’s rich history and diverse regional influences, showcasing patterns, colors, and craftsmanship.
Even though chopsticks are the first thing you’ll encounter in China, you might still expect to find other things in a restaurant if you need them.
02. Spoon
A spoon 勺子 (sháozi) is one of the more “common” things for Chinese people which you can find at almost any restaurant. It’s used for soups, congee, soft dishes that easily break (such as tofu), liquid desserts etc. You can also use a spoon together with chopsticks to eat some delicate dishes such as 小笼包 (xiǎolóngbao).
Mind that Chinese spoons might be slightly different from the western “soup” spoons – they are often made of ceramics and have short, thick handle and higher sides.
03. Knife
According to the Chinese tradition, the knife 刀 (dāo) belongs in the kitchen. The cook uses it to cut all the ingredients into bite-size pieces, so when the food is served, you won’t need a knife at the table. In the past, this method helped save a lot of fuel while cooking – food cut into small pieces cooks faster.
Most Western restaurants typically provide a ‘fork + knife’ set, but if you need to request it, you can say:
服务员,可以给我一个刀吗? (fúwùyuán, kěyǐ gěi wǒ yí gè dāo ma) - Waiter, can you give me a knife?
In this sentence, the modal verb 可以 (kěyǐ) – “can” adds politeness to the request. Feel free to substitute the word “knife” with any other item you may require.
04. Fork
A fork 叉子 (chāzi) is a primary item in the West, but it’s not very common in China. However, you can always try asking for it if you can’t handle chopsticks (if it’s a small restaurant and they don’t have forks, at least they can give you a spoon). And if you come to a Western-style restaurant, or to a place which serves dishes you need to cut (e.g. big chunks of meat), the dishes will be served with a knife and fork.
05. Plate
盘子 (pánzi) is commonly used to serve main courses and appetizers. In Chinese dining culture, 盘子 also holds a symbolic significance, representing abundance of sharing meals during family gatherings and social events.
06. Bowl
Typically made from materials like ceramic, porcelain, or plastic, bowls come in various sizes to accommodate different types of dishes. In China, 碗 (wǎn) is often used for serving rice, noodles, soups, and other delights.
07. Cup / Glass
And the most common item for drinks and beverages is: 杯子 (bēizi)
There are various types of 杯子 (bēizi), each designed for specific beverages or occasions. Here are some common types:
茶杯 (chá bēi) • tea cup
咖啡杯 (kāfēi bēi) • coffee cup
水杯 (shuǐ bēi) • water cup
啤酒杯 (píjiǔ bēi) • beer mug
高脚杯 (gāojiǎo bēi) • goblet