In a restaurant I asked for dry fried green beans (干煸豆角) with no salt. The woman was very kind and asked if hot peppers are okay (yes) and when she told the cook I heard her say don’t add salt. When they came though they had very much salt. Delicious but I should not eat that. She said they had not added salt, which was true in a way. But of course the cook had made up the peppers-and-meat seasoning at the start of the day. It had a lot of salt in it.

I fear I did not explain the problem very well to her, because that past-perfect construction was beyond me. How can I say “there was already a lot of salt in the meat”?

The people were so kind I want to go back. But I have to be able to explain this to them.

Henry HO and user6065 give good ideas of what I should have said yesterday in the first place. And I will use those suggestions in the future at other restaurants.

But when it happened, the woman was very concerned to say "He did not add any salt." And I tried to agree "Yes, I know he did not add any. The meat was already salty." She really wanted to help me and I wanted to explain that I appreciated that even though the result was too salty for me to eat.

I can easily say I know he did not add any. The second part is harder for me.

  • 问题在于肉 (作调料的辣椒和肉)里放盐得太多了
    – user6065
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 2:15
  • "Yes, I know he did not add any. The meat was already salty." 肉本来很咸
    – Mou某
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 13:08
  • A side note. If it's in the marinade, the salty bit may well be an essential part that makes the dish delicious.
    – jf328
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 8:12

4 Answers 4



This translates into:

I know you did not add salt, but, possibly because the meat was pickled, it was still too salty for me. This is not your fault. I still thank you very much for the care you have shown me.

Hence, this is a polite and considerate way of addressing the issue.

  • This might be a better answer if you explained why this phrasing works for the OP.
    – user5714
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 19:05
  • @Maroon I attempted to provide a corresponding edit, which is pending.
    – Ludi
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 11:15
  • Thank you @Ludi for your help editing the original answer to make it more clear
    – Alex.Bai
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 20:32
  • For a quick conversation in a restaurant, is this perhaps too formal, even to the point where it seems passive-aggressive? Something like, “我知道你们没加盐,但这肉是不是本来就有点咸啊?“ doesn't seem too mean.
    – mpnm
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 17:09

I think you can say:


The taste of the meat itself was already very salty

or more politely


Maybe the taste of the meat itself was too salty for me

or if you want to emphasize it's not her fault


Maybe the taste of the meat was already very salty before seasoning


Do you want to say "The bean is okay but the meat is salty" ?

How about "豆很棒, 肉太咸" / "豆很棒, 可是肉有點咸" / "豆很棒, 可是肉的咸味重了點(兒)" ?

When you tell them the difference between the two main ingredients, they will know how to improve the dish for you. ^__^

Edit: Also, it is more polite to express your feeling on the dish, than to comment on their preparation process.

  • The woman understood that I had a special need for low salt and so she happily discussed beforehand how the dish would be prepared. And when it came she was happy to say "he did not add salt." I wanted to say I knew that he did not, and I appreciated that, but still there was a lot of salt because it was already in the meat. Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 3:40
  • "會不會是腌肉的佐料咸味偏重了"?
    – Henry HO
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 3:49
  • It was not a question. The dish was very salty. And i certainly did not want to imply that she was wrong to say no salt was added. Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 3:52
  • It sounds more polite when asked as a question. Also, it may be the preserved vegetables or the sauce (which meat absorbs more) being salty. You just can't be 100% certain.
    – Henry HO
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 4:53

It seems more about courtesy than translation. I know you don't want to give her the impression that you are blaming her for something you didn't declared in advance. If you plan to go back to the same restaurant, I suggest you discuss with her beforehand how the dish would be prepared in more details. You can ask her "Is the meat preserved in salt?(这肉是用盐腌的吗?)", "Is the hot peppers preserved in salt?(辣椒是用盐腌的吗?)", "Does the seasoning itself contain salt? (调料里有盐吗?)" and so on. If she answered "yes", you can say "Oh, I want something less salty. Do you have fresh meat not preserved in salt?". Dicussing this before the dish was cooked is not offensive. You are just telling her your special need.

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