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custom restaurant phrase book ideas for NY foodies with pitiful language skills

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As noted in my post here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... my husband and I are planning to travel to Beijing and Shanghai for 3 weeks in October. For at least half of the trip we will be on our own (unless we go on one of those day trips or hire a guide.) We speak only English and high school French. As one of our major concerns is being able to get good food, we were thinking of having some of his colleagues from China help us make up a little restaurant phrase book – a little notebook that would fit in a pocket, where we could find an English phrase like “Can we please have the bill?” and have the appropriate characters below. Does anyone have recommended phrases that would come in handy, beyond the usual “I apologize for my inability to speak the language properly. I appreciate any assistance you might give me”? (I know in France, for instance, my husband’s top two most-used phrases seemed to be “Assiette de fromage, s’il vous plait,” and “Encore de pain, s’il vous plait.” (“Cheese plate, please,” and “More bread,please.”

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For instance, since it will be Dazha crab season, I imagine we would want to include the phrase, “I would like to order the Dazha crab.” Or maybe, “I would like to order some pre-shelled Dazha crab”? That’s the kind of thing I have in mind.

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  1. Here are a few cheats:

    A fun and useful video with a .pdf transcription for ordering in a Chinese restaurant from VideoHotpot:

    http://www.chinesepod.com/blog/2006/0...

    One for Vegetarians:

    http://pratyeka.org/vegetarian-china/

    And an interesting parsing of Chinese menu terminology from MIT:

    http://www.chinese-forums.com/attachm...

    1. You rock!

      Thank you, Gary.