I just felt like some French fries for the first time since I've been in China so I bought some from a Dico's here in Zhangjiakou.

I ordered by pointing at the menu becuase I'm just beginning at Mandarin and don't know the Chinese word yet. But when I took note of the characters on the menu and then pulled out my phrasebook when I sat down to eat, I noticed the terms were totally different. When I got home and looked on Wiktionary I found there were even more terms. Here's just the simplified character spellings of the terms I found so far:

  • 马铃薯条 (mǎlíngshǔtiáo)
  • 薯条 (shǔtiáo)
  • 土豆条 (tǔdòutiáo)
  • 炸薯条 (zhàshǔtiáo)
  • 炸土豆条 (zhátǔdòutiáo)

I'd like to know if any have subtle differences in meaning, are old fashioned, are used in some places but not others, etc. Or are they all totally interchangeable?

  • 2
    马铃薯 = 土豆 西红柿 = 番茄, as a southerner, I usually use the latters.
    – hrzhu
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 7:46
  • 1
    Some more interesting facts. 红薯/地瓜(in Northern I guess) = 山芋(southern) = sweet potato And I say 土豆(means potato) in Mandarin, but I don't use Mandarin in daily casual talk, I use Shanghainese, which is a dialect of Wu languages. We refer to 土豆/马铃薯 by 洋山芋 because it looks like 山芋/红薯 and was introduced to China from abroad.
    – hrzhu
    Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 13:23

1 Answer 1

  • 马铃薯 (commonly known as 土豆 in Northeastern China) is the general term for potato.
  • (炸/马铃)薯条 is commonly understood as French fries (hot chips). By default, both 炸 and 马铃 are redundant.

土豆条 and 炸土豆条 are the less common terms for French fries.

Other related terms:

  • 薯片 - potato chips / potato crisps / packet chips
  • 薯泥 - mashed potato
  • 薯餅 - hash brown
  • 烤马铃薯 - baked potato
  • 薯角 - potato wedges
  • 土豆丝 - shredded potato
  • 1
    +1 Exactly. Yet maybe it should be noted that though 丝 and 条 are similar, 土豆丝 is Chinese food (and it's seldom called 马铃薯丝 even in Southern China).
    – Stan
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 17:12
  • +1 fantastic :) can it be further clarified that 薯片 refers to potato crisps, to differentiate them from the hot chips variety?
    – Ming
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 0:25
  • @Stan, thanks for the info, I have included 土豆丝. Ming, thanks, I have added in the clarification.
    – 杨以轩
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 2:09
  • 1
    Personally I don't say 土豆. KFC in China has mashed potatoes named 土豆泥. I went to KFC once and asked for 马铃薯泥, and the girl behind the counter asked me back, "do you mean 土豆泥?"
    – user58955
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 11:23
  • Given the vastness of mainland China, a variety of names is to be expected. South-East Asian Chinese call potatoes, (the uncooked item), 荷兰薯, (Holland potatoes), because this food item used to come mostly from Holland, (now called Netherlands of course) As for "french fries", we just call it 薯条 Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 3:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.