Ordering food in other countries

One reason I love to travel is to practice bits of other languages. Another reason I love to travel is for food. Language and food both define a culture and help show the differences between ours and others, which is pretty interesting (I mean, if you’re into that).

For example, rice and meal mean the same thing in many East Asian languages (look into it!). Foods can show history through trade partners or colonization (Massaman curry is based on Persian food??) And why are the “drunk” food in places like the UK and US based on the food of the largest immigrant groups (kebabs, tacos)????

Anyway, here are what I found to be the most common ways to order (street) foods in different countries (to be updated as travels continue) so I remember for later.

(Num desired +) food item countries (sans the frivolous words we add in English):

Thailand (ex. Kaeb moo – but remember to say thank you!)

Vietnam (ex. Hai bun thit nuong – thank you is less meaningful here)


Instead of bun thit nuong, I give you banh beo because it’s tasty 

Num desired + food item + please countries:

Austria/Germany (ex. Ein kebab, bitte)


No kebab pictures (and not because I was drunk) but behold- the famous Sachertorte at the not famous Sacher cake place (this was at Hitler’s favorite cafe)

Fancy sentence countries (mind your Ps and Qs):

France (ex. Je voudrais une crepe, s’il vous plait)


If I had a picture to insert, it would be of jamón ibérico from the market stands. Best. Ever.


Japan: At least for the ramen we had, we ordered from a machine!! You select the food/drinks you want from the buttons, then give the receipt to the cook.

Ramen ordering machine

When unsure, point and grunt.

China (Kunming): I didn’t learn useful Chinese and no one we spoke to spoke any English, so we did the good old point and grunt… Note: This method sucks. Even if you’re only somewhere for a day, learn basic words.

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