Melted, Grated, Grilled… Your Essential “Cheese” Chinese

At Lingo Bus, we recommend that all visitors to China jump in and experience as much of the nation’s rich, diverse culture as possible. This includes the food.

However, especially for foreigners who live in the PRC, sometimes you just want a taste of home. This includes cheese.

So, here it is: a post dedicated to the nutty, creamy, dairy goodness that is cheese in all its glorious varieties.

Cheese Sandwichs

Cheese is known by a few names in China. On the mainland, you’ll mostly hear 奶酪 (nǎilào), and sometimes 乳酪 (rǔlào).

  • 奶 (nǎi) = milk
  • 乳 (rǔ) = milk
  • 酪 (lào) = curdled milk

You might also hear 干酪, but only in the context of a dry cheese (干 refers to “dry”).

In Hong Kong, cheese is also called 芝士 (zhīshì), based on the sound of the English name.

As relative newcomers to the Chinese diet (and lexicon), many varieties of cheese are named using transliterations, taken from the English sounds rather than having any particular meaning in Chinese. 莫泽雷勒 (mòzéléilè) is a good example.

We hope the language below will be helpful as you wander the dairy aisles in search of your next cheese fix:

yí kuài nǎilào


a piece of cheese

mòzéléilè nǎilào


Mozzarella cheese


nóng wèi qièdá gānlào


mature cheddar cheese


bùlǐ nǎilào


Brie (cheese)


Pà‘ěrmǎ gānlào


Parmesan cheese


ruǎn nǎilào


soft cheese (inc. cottage cheese)


mó suì de nǎilào


grated cheese


Tā bǎ yíge nǎilào sānmīngzhì fàng dào kǎojià xià hōngkǎo.


She put a cheese sandwich under the grill (to heat it).


Nǎilào rónghuàle. Tài hǎo chīle!

奶酪融化了. 太好吃了!

The cheese melted. So tasty!


Gānlào tōngxīnfěn bùdīng


macaroni cheese


Zhīshì dàngāo/ nǎilàodàngāo

芝士蛋糕/ 奶酪蛋糕

Cheese cake




goat’s cheese

GoatsCheese Yunnan_Lumdimsumcom.jpg
Goat’s Cheese

Cheese Tip! If you are curious to try cheese local to China, the goat’s cheese of Yunnan is delicious. You can find great Yunnan fried goat’s cheese at Southern Barbarian in Shanghai and Beijing too.

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