Chinese Language Blog

In the (Chinese) Kitchen Posted by on Apr 28, 2015 in Culture, Vocabulary

I love to cook, and one of the things I miss most about home is being able to walk into the local grocery store, understand everything on the shelves, and then cook up a tasty meal in the kitchen. As is the case with many aspects of daily life here, things are just not so simple in China. For some help doing your grocery shopping in Chinese, you can check out these past posts:

Now that you’ve got all your ingredients, it’s time to hit the kitchen. You may be surprised, however, to find out that Chinese kitchens are incredibly tiny and bare-boned. For a people who take great pride in their cuisine and seem to plan their entire day around meals, you’d think kitchens would be a bigger deal here. For most Westerners living in China, the major drawback to a Chinese kitchen is the lack of an oven. We love baking things – cakes, chickens, pizzas – and this is simply not a preferred style of cooking in China. It might be more popular, but ovens are expensive and large. Some may also be bummed to find the kitchen devoid of a dishwasher as well.

Chinese ladies sure know how to make the best of a bad kitchen.

Chinese ladies sure know how to make the best of a bad kitchen.


As for me, I’d love to have an oven, but get by just fine with my simple toaster oven. I lived without a dishwasher for two years before I moved here, so I’m used to and actually prefer doing dishes by hand. What really gets me is the sheer lack of space in Chinese kitchens. Cooking here is usually a one-person job by necessity – you simply can’t fit two people in there. Any time I’m trying to cook up a big meal, I get claustrophobic and stressed out. With just two burners and very limited counter space, I have to get creative about where I put things – cutting board with veggies ready to go on top of the coffee machine, rice cooker nestled next to the water cooler, and so on.

The kitchen in my first ever Chinese apartment.

The kitchen in my first ever Chinese apartment.

To at least make your life a bit easier when dealing with kitchen issues in China, here’s some useful vocabulary to study:

The Room

  • kitchen (厨房 – chú fáng)

  • sink (洗碗池 – xǐ wǎn chí)

  • shelf (搁板 – gē bǎn)

  • cabinet (厨柜 – chú guì)

  • counter (柜台 – guì tái)

  • drawer (抽屉 – chōu tì)


  • stove (火炉 – huǒ lú)

  • oven (烤箱 – kǎo xiāng)

  • refrigerator (冰箱 – bīng xiāng)

  • freezer (冰柜 – bīng guì)

  • microwave (微波炉 – wéi bō lú)

  • dishwasher (洗碗机 – xǐ wǎn jī)

  • toaster (烤面包机 – kǎo miàn bāo jī)

  • blender (电搅拌器 – diàn jiǎo bàn qì)

  • food processor (食物调理机 – shí wù tiáo lǐ jī)

  • coffee machine (咖啡机 – kā fēi jī)

  • slow cooker (慢炖锅 – màn dùn guō)

  • tea kettle (茶壶 – chá hú)

  • rice cooker (电饭锅 – diàn fàn guō)

  • can opener (开罐器 – kāi guàn qì)

Here’s a little description of my kitchen and what appliances I have:

My current kitchen. It's small, but it works.

My current kitchen. It’s small, but it works.


我的厨房有点小。  里面只有洗碗池,火炉,很小的柜台,和几个厨柜。



wǒ de chú fáng yǒu diǎn xiǎo. lǐ miàn zhǐ yǒu xǐ wǎn chí, huǒ lú, hěn xiǎo de guì tái, hé jǐ gè chú guì.

chú fáng diàn qì de huà, wǒ yǒu: bīng xiāng, kā fēi jī, kǎo miàn bāo jī, diàn fàn guō, hé diàn jiǎo bàn qì. méi yǒu kǎo xiāng, xǐ wǎn jī, huò zhě màn dùn guō.


My kitchen is a little small. Inside there’s only a sink, stove, a very small counter, and a few cabinets.

As for kitchen appliances, I have: a fridge, coffee maker, toaster, rice cooker, and a blender. I don’t have an oven, dishwasher, or microwave.

Now, try to put these words into action yourself by answering a few questions:

  • How’s your kitchen?


    (nǐ de chú fáng zěn me yàng)

  • What appliances are in your kitchen?


    (nǐ de chú fáng lǐ miàn yǒu shén me diàn qì)


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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.

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