At the Restaurant – Ordering

2 06 2010

This post is the latest in our specials for Travelfish.  Last week we looked at Taxi Thai to get you to the restaurant.  Now you’re there, so you’re ready to fill the table with culinary awesomeness.  Let’s look at some of the basics of ordering.

The first thing to be aware of is that all nouns in Thai are treated as ‘uncountable’ and therefore all nouns need classifiers with which to count them.

That sounds really TEFL, so here’s an example to try to clarify.  In English a countable noun is something like ‘sausage’.  You can count sausages by putting a number in front of it: one sausage, two sausages, three sausages etc.

An uncountable noun is something like ‘bread’.  You can’t say “one bread”; you have to include another word after the number in order to count it: one loaf of bread.  In this case ‘loaf’ is the classifier for the noun ‘bread’.  In Thai all nouns behave as ‘bread’ does in English, and so all nouns need classifiers.

Happily, many of the classifiers you will need at the restaurant are also nouns in their own right (though this is not always the case).  Here are the ones you’re going to need when at the restaurant.

Key Classifiers at The Restaurant

จาน  jaan: means plate, and is used as the classifier for food dishes to be eaten at the table

ใบ bai: classifier for glasses, bowls and plates

ขวด kùat, แก้ว gâew: mean bottle and glass respectively, and are used as classifiers for drinks

ห่อ hòr, กล่อง glòng: mean package and box respectively and are the classifiers for food that will be wrapped and taken home to eat.

ไม้ mái: means stick, and is the classifier for things sold on sticks like satay or grilled chicken hearts

Food Glorious Food

Now for some things that you might end up asking for at the restaurant.  Menus in Thai eateries tend to be ever so slightly longer than War and Peace, so here are just a few obvious ones.  You’ll have your favourites.

แกง เขียว หวาน gaeng kĭeow wăan: green curry

เบิยร์ bia: beer

ผัดไทย pàt tai: Pad Thai

หมู สะเต๊ะ mŏo sà-dté: pork satay

Function Words

To ask for something you use either ขอ kŏr (may I have) or เอา ao (I want).

The formula for ordering is:   request word – item – number – classifier – krap/ka

Reading Practice

So let’s put all of that together to see it in action.  Look back at the vocab and see if you can work out what I’m after in these examples.

ขอ เบิยร์ สอง ขวด ครับ

kŏr bia sŏng kùat kráp

เอา หมู สะเต๊ะ ห้า ไม้ คะ

ao mŏo sà-dté hâa mái ká

ขอ เบิยร์ หนึ่ง ขวด และ แก้ว สาม ใบ คะ

kŏr bia nèung kùat láe gâew săam bai ká

เอว แกง เขียว หวาน หนึ่ง จาน ครับ

ao gaeng kĭeow wăan nèung jaan kráp

ขอ ผัด ไทย สาม ห่อ ครับ

kŏr pàt tai săam hòr kráp

While forgetting your classifiers and insisting of the English formula of ‘ao sŏng bia’ will probably still get you roughly what you’re hoping for, you’ll sound like a right tourist!  Get classifiers right and you’ll impress your mates and the wait staff, which can’t be bad.

Have a go at putting some of the vocab in this lesson together with some of your favourite Thai delicacies.

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3 responses

3 06 2010

nice blog, just found it on twitter.
can you explain a bit more about this sentence?

kŏr bia nèung kùat láe gâew săam bai ká

I understand that it means “i would like one bottle of beer … 3 glasses”

does “láe” stand for “and”? and where is that “bai” coming from?

3 06 2010

No problem. บวด kùat means bottle and classifies the beer. So the first part of the sentence is asking for one bottle of beer.

In the second part of the sentence we use แก้ว gâew as a noun in its own right to mean glass, then it’s classfier ใบ bai to say how many glasses we want: lit. glasses three bai (bai being the classifier for glass).

So the whole sentence:
ขอ เบิยร์ หนึ่ง ขวด และ แก้ว สาม ใบ คะ

kŏr bia nèung kùat láe gâew săam bai ká

translates as “May I have one bottle of beer and three glasses, please?”

3 06 2010

p.s. and yes you are correct, และ láe means ‘and’.

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