Big Meal Scene 1

Stephen and Ashlie visit Chinatown to look for some cooking tips.

Do the Preparation task first. Then watch the video. Next go to Task and do the activity. If you need help, you can read the Transcript at any time.


Before you watch

Think about the following questions:

  • What do you do to celebrate your birthday?
  • Do you enjoy eating unusual foods?
  • Do you like to cook?

Now, watch Stephen and Ashlie as they enjoy the taste of Chinatown.



Stephen: Hi there. This is China Town, right in the centre of London. This is one of London’s most exciting areas. The streets are full of Chinese shops, Chinese restaurants and markets.

Ashlie: It’s my birthday today and we have got some friends coming over to ours tonight for a special meal and Stephen has kindly agreed to cook us all some Chinese food.

Stephen: And hopefully today, I’ll be picking up some great cooking tips and some fresh ingredients.


Ashlie: Wow! This place is amazing. Look at this, Stephen. I don’t even know what half of this stuff is.

Stephen: Yeah - what do you think this is?

Ashlie: I don’t know, but I hope you’re getting some ideas for the meal tonight.

Stephen: Yeah, absolutely. I’m getting great ideas for tonight. Come on, I know a great restaurant that does really good Dim Sum.

Ashlie: Dim Sum. What’s Dim Sum?


Ashlie: This looks incredible. Is this what you’re planning to cook tonight, Stephen?

Stephen: Let’s go inside and try a few things.

Ashlie: Hmmm. I can’t wait to try some of these amazing dishes.

Stephen: Come on. Let’s see if it tastes as good as it looks.


Stephen: Wow. I’d love to know how they cook this stuff. Do you think they’d let me visit the kitchen? I’d love to meet the chef.

Ashlie: Let’s ask the waiter. Excuse me?

Waitress: Yes. Welcome to the Golden Harvest. Can I help you?

Ashlie: Everything is fabulous, in fact the food is excellent.

Waiter: Thank you.

Stephen: I wonder if you could do me a favour. I need some help.

Waiter: Yes, sure.

Stephen: I have to cook a special Chinese meal tonight and I was wondering if I could go to the kitchen and meet the chef. 

Waiter: Do you want to meet the chef?

Stephen: I wanted to ask the chef a few questions. You know - get a few tips on how to cook Chinese food.

Waiter: Ah, yes, sure. He’s very busy but let me see if he’s got the time to talk to you.

Stephen: Thank you very much indeed.


Stephen: Hello, thank you for seeing me.

Chef: How you do, Sir, thank you.

Stephen: I was wondering if you could give me a few quick tips on how to cook Chinese food.

Chef: Yeah, to cook Chinese food, one, you must have a very good chef.

Stephen: The chef is very important.

Chef: Very important.

Stephen: And number two?

Chef: And number two, the food must be fresh.

Stephen: Fresh ingredients.

Chef: Yes, fresh ingredients.

Stephen: And what are we going to cook today?

Chef: Today we’ll cook Kung fu lobster.     

Stephen: Kung fu lobster.


Stephen thinks: "A take away menu... this might come in handy later."


Stephen: That was great. Really interesting and a bit scary! I learned a lot and you know what? I’ve got a list of all the ingredients that I need for tonight’s meal.

Ashlie: Well, you have no excuses now. I’m expecting the perfect meal tonight. Come on, let’s finish the shopping. So you can get home and do the cooking.


Ashlie: So is that everything, then?

Stephen: Let me see, garlic, noodles, lobster, mushrooms - yep. That’s everything.

Ashlie: Except one thing.

Stephen: What’s that?

Ashlie: A chicken foot. 

Stephen: Ugh!

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Submitted by gdinunzio on Tue, 21/09/2021 - 17:11

I prefer to eat out especially to celebrate. Chinese food has been popular in Italy too for long time. In the last years, japanese restaurants have caught up and overcome the chinese ones.

Submitted by May Thida Su on Wed, 03/03/2021 - 04:42

What means "picking up " in " I'll be picking up some great cooking tips and some fresh ingredients. "?

Hi May Thida Su,

Pick up has several different meanings. Here, it means to 'gain' or 'obtain' something. :)


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by May Thida Su on Tue, 02/03/2021 - 05:04

Oh ! I like both, eating out in a restaurant and eating at home. In my country, Chinese food is the most popular food. Then Indian food is the second popular food in my country. I like Chinese food than Indian food.

Submitted by May Thida Su on Tue, 02/03/2021 - 04:26

Dear team, In this section, I have some questions that I don't understand. The first one is what Ash said at 1:07 " I don't even know what half of this stuff is " and the second one is what Stephen said at 3:43 " ...... this might come in handy later " . I hope you'll reply my questions. Thanks a million Team.
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Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 05/03/2021 - 08:48

In reply to by May Thida Su


Hello May Thida Su,

When Ash says that, she means she doesn't recognise a lot of the foods. She's surprised to learn there are foods she didn't know about.

When we say something comes in handy, it means we think it might help us.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by walidmohamed on Sun, 22/11/2020 - 00:26

sometimes i prefer to eat outside , and we have Italian restaurants in my country

Submitted by Bruno2020 on Thu, 09/07/2020 - 00:49

Well, thanks for the episode. I prefer having a good time eating at home. In brazil we have a lot of italian restaurants. Their food is delicious!

Submitted by Anlee on Fri, 19/06/2020 - 15:51

I prefer to eat at home because it is just convenient and I feel more relax. But I really enjoyed eating in the restaurant, with quality food and good service as well. I personally like French food.

Submitted by Simon on Fri, 24/04/2020 - 18:10

I would like to meet a chef once and get hist best advice too. I also love to try new food and I also like to try new food at home and cook many things I don't even know how to cook. It is so interesting to learn about new food and to have something new to cook every day. I also love to go to a restaurant, but I prefer to cook my own meals.

Submitted by JustAlex on Fri, 24/04/2020 - 09:16

I really like to try out foreign food, especially Chinese food. Don't get me wrong, I like Austrian food but its always a nice experience to taste things you didn't taste before. The downside is, that there is not really any Chinese grocery stores nearby so if I wanted to cook my own foreign food, then I would need to go and buy the things somewhere else. A multicultural city like London has an advantage for People who want to try out new things.

Submitted by David S. on Tue, 21/04/2020 - 17:04

I prefer to make my own food at home, because I know exactly what is in my food. For me, restaurants are places that are meant for celebrations. Also eating at home is more comfortable than in restaurants. Cooking makes me feel good and i can be proud of myself if i create a masterpiece. But i don't dislike eating in pleasant restaurant with good staff, because the meal usually taste very good and is quickly prepared. In Austria we have a lot of different foreign food. Chinese and Italian food is very popular in our country. I personally like the Italien food very much. But every taste is different.

Submitted by _Jonas_ on Tue, 21/04/2020 - 16:23

I think variety is the best choice. I really like cooking my own food, but going to a nice restaurante with friends or family is also really enjoyable. If I would have to decide between those two, I would coose eating at home. We have a lot of different food cultures in Austria like, American fastfood restaurants such as McDonalds, Burgerking or KFC. We also have a lot of Chinese and Italian as well as some Indian and Mexican restaurants in our country.

Submitted by Dorum8000 on Tue, 21/04/2020 - 16:23

I prefer eating at home because I like cooking my food myself so I can make it just the way I like it. Eating at home is also cheaper and healthier over all. In Austria is the Chinese food the moste common than comes the Italian and the Greek. I prefere the Chinese because I love Duck.

Submitted by shorty on Sat, 18/04/2020 - 12:57

I prefer to eat at home, because it is important to know how to cook and maybe one time you live alone and then you can't cook. But after a long day at school i enjoy it to go in a restaurant and don't have to cook for myself. At the weekend the most of the time I eat at home, because i invite a friend and then we grill and drink a little bit beer. I'm living in Austria and we have really much various eating cultures. We have the east with Chinese, India, Turkie and much more. From the south we have the Italian, Croatia and we have the American Steak and Burgers from the west. I love the American food.

Submitted by Nadroj on Fri, 17/04/2020 - 16:48

In my opinion, cooking yourself is an important activity that will continue to be useful in the future. Restaurants are nice places to have a good time with people or to celebrate something. It is clear that you do not have to cook anything yourself in restaurants and it is also quickly made and tastes delicious. But creating something yourself is still a different feeling, according to my own experience. That's why I prefer to cook my own food. If it has to be fast, I prefer to go to an Austrian restaurant. Although I really appreciate the variety. All in all, Austria is a multicultural country and that's wonderful.

Submitted by Amar Mujakic on Fri, 17/04/2020 - 16:41

Although I really like eating in restraunts, I would prefer to eat at home. My Mom always makes fresh food with fresh ingredients and eating her dishes always releases a feeling of nostalgia and happiness. Here in Austria there also are restraunts which show the food of foreign cultures. For example here in Austria we have a lot Asian and Chinese food restraunts, we have also got a lot classic fast food restraunts (like McDonalds etc.). We have also got restraunts with traditional Austrian food like Wiener Schnitzel and other delicous dishes. I still think that the most popular foreign food comes from Italy. Everybody loves Pizza.

Submitted by friday on Fri, 17/04/2020 - 15:58

I prefer eating my meals at home because you have your private room and as much time as you want to do so. I also think it´s funnier to cook by myself or with the company of my friends. I enjoy learning new receipts and try to get better if it flops for the first time. I think restaurants are a nice thing if you´re going out and want to spend your time with something fancier. If I had to choose I would prefer Chinese and Italian restaurants because I love their food. Besides, Mexican and Turkish food is common in Austria as well.

Submitted by Ireneusz on Fri, 17/04/2020 - 15:45

I prefer to eat at home because it gives me more options. Overall I like cooking and I enjoy it. For this I have a rather specific taste and prefer to season the food myself. By cooking myself, I also have an influence on the products from which I will make the dish, their quality and freshness. The only thing that sometimes speaks for eating out is the cost and time of preparation. I don't always have these minimum 2 hours to cook. Another plus is that you don't have to worry about washing dishes after all. Meals are often bought in disposable packaging. Personally, I recommend eating at home after all. It can often be better for our health and you can have fun preparing food.

Submitted by JaRe on Fri, 17/04/2020 - 11:37

I personally prefer to eat at home because I think that the food at home tastes better than in some restaurants. My family and I don't go to restaurants very often, although there are good ones in our region. In Austria you can eat nearly everything. I think that Chinese and Italian food are the most popular foreign foods.

Submitted by FO0305 on Fri, 17/04/2020 - 09:59

I prefer to eat in a restaurant, because you don't have to do any things. The waiter asks you which food you want to have and then it gets cooked for you. It's very comfortable if you are too lazy to cook on your own. Of course it's more expensive than cooking at home but there is no need to do anything. In my country, in Austria there is a lot of foreign food: Greek, Turkish, Mexican, Italian and also Chinese. That's very good because you can taste everything you want. My personal favourite food is Greek, it taste very different and there is always something that you haven't eaten yet.

Submitted by fao on Fri, 17/04/2020 - 08:33

I personally cannot decide whether I prefer to eat at home or in a restaurant. Sometimes I like fast food and sometimes not. Since in Austria american, italian and chinese food is very common, you can eat everyday something different. However, I usually eat at home, because the food tastes really good and I know what´s inside. There are also many meals that you can make yourself and that don´t require much effort. For special occasions I also like to go to a restaurant.

Submitted by LA11 on Thu, 16/04/2020 - 17:24

I prefer eating at home because it's more comfortable than in the restaurant, but sometimes when we don't want to cook, we visit a restaurant or we bring it home to us. We also love the Chinese food in Austria, but we also like the Italian or the Mexican food. Of course, you can't say Austrians like a special food because everyone has his own taste! I personally like the Chinese food very much. It's very diverse and tastes really good.

Submitted by Mathias Rößler on Thu, 16/04/2020 - 15:54

I prefer eating at home because I like cooking my food myself so I can make it just the way I like it, additionally I prefer eating at home because I can take all the time in the world eating my meal. But I don't dislike eating out because there is a far broader selection and the meals usually taste better because they are cooked by professionals. In Austria Italian and Mexican food is very popular. Chinese, Japanese and Mongolian restaurants are also very popular

Submitted by Mirko on Thu, 16/04/2020 - 15:12

I prefer to eat in a restaurant and that for a simple reason. After a long day of school/work you can take a rest while sitting in the restaurant and waiting for some other to make it for you. Ofcourse it's way more expensive then cooking your own food but at all it's more pleasant. I'm living in Austria and in Austria is Turkish food really popular especially "kebab" and Italian food is also really popular. Austria is a country with alot of foreign food and i'm happy about to have a choice.

Submitted by nvne on Thu, 16/04/2020 - 14:50

I personally like eating at home because its more comfortable. When you eat at a resturant, you need to wait until the waiter comes to you so you can order your food. It probably also takes longer to wait for the food because in a resturant a lot of people are ordering food. In Austria turkish food like Kebap or Köftespieß are very appreciated.

Submitted by chairpotato on Thu, 16/04/2020 - 13:24

I prefer to eat at home because it is much more comfortable and you also know which ingredients were used in the food, it is also a lot cheaper than eating or ordering. Chinese and Turkish food is very common in my country, but Italian restaurants can also be found without any problems

Submitted by sponge on Thu, 16/04/2020 - 12:17

I prefer eating at home because my mom always wanted to be a cook and she can make meals like a professional cook. We don't have to worry about food in our home because there is plenty to eat. But if I have to decide where I'd have to eat, I'd decide to go to an exotic restaurant just like Stephen and Ashlie because I love chinese / exotic food. My favourite meals are noodles and chicken. That's why i love chinese restaurants so much because it's the perfect place for noodles and chicken. In my country people prefer normal food like sandwiches, pizzas, sausages, just the usual stuff. But I don't eat chinese food only, like i said my mom can make good meals. Her speacialties are Pumpkin soup and dumplings with special meat sauce. In my school-break time i usually have bread with salami because i don't think it's neseccary to eat a lot in school.

Hello sponge

I just wanted to mention that you should be at least 18 to use this site. If you are 18 or older, then please ignore the rest of my comment and continue using our site. And thanks for your comment!

If you're younger than 18, I'd suggest you check out LearnEnglish Teens. It's very similar to LearnEnglish, but has topics that are probably more interesting for you.

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The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Akito on Thu, 16/04/2020 - 09:10

I personally prefer eating at home. It takes more effort, yes, but I don´t like eating in public. I always feel like people look at the way you eat or what you eat and that makes me uncomfortable. When eating at home you can take all the time in the world to eat, but at a restaurant the waiter comes to check on you all the time and that makes me feel like I need to rush so the next people can eat in at my table Here in austria italian and chinese is very popular. Turkish food is also very well known. Japanese is certainly popular, but not to the extent of the others listed here

Submitted by klcze on Wed, 15/04/2020 - 17:57

I prefer eating at home. Because homemade foods are healthier and taste better. In my family it's actually my mother who cooks delicious food for us. But I have to mention that I sometimes try cooking new meals by following the steps of a recipe I found on the internet. My family and I eat out in a restaurant only once a month. Chinese food or generally Asian food is very popular in my country. Such as sushi, ramen, and many more. People also like Italian food like pizza and pasta. In some cities, the majority eats kebab which is well-known Turkish food.

Submitted by Nourhene.boussema on Fri, 06/03/2020 - 16:42

I prefer always eating in restaurants but in reality I cook at home most time and some time we go to the restaurant and eat delicious pizza or sandwich. In Tunisia the popular food is couscous it comes from wheat and it comes with fish, meat, chicken or vegetables it is my favorite dish.

Submitted by popo1011 on Mon, 07/10/2019 - 10:50

I prefer homemade food, but I have a lot of business to do. I try to cook in the home during the week but regularly we go to the restaurant at the weekends. The popular food in my country is Italian food such as pizza, pasta, Caesar salad.

Submitted by parisaach on Mon, 23/09/2019 - 06:00

I usually like to eat at home because home foods are healthier and more delicous. In fact my mother always cook, so we are not interested in going out for eating, but sometimes it is good to go out and try new foods. I usually go out to eat with my friends when we want to meet together. I like Italian food , I don't like Chinese food, I tried sushi and don't like the taste, but some people in my country really enjoy of eating Chinese food. Chinese eating everything raw I don't like the tast I rather everything cooked well and don't like meats the way they eat . They eat everything. When I was at China I really couldn't eat their food. When they bring their food you could imagine the animal in your plate. I eat fish or shrimp when they well cooked not in Chinese way.

Submitted by conghung3011 on Sat, 14/09/2019 - 03:58

I usually eat at home. Sometimes my family and I go to restaurant at weekend. In my country, there are many foreign food from Japan, China, Korea, Italy,....

Submitted by ADELE on Fri, 22/03/2019 - 14:08

Hi, I like both ways to eat. When i am at work i usually eat at restaurant because not time to return at home. At weekend i eat at home. We have various kinds of food from many countries like: Chinese Japanese italian Europe. The foreign foods which are popular in my country is Japanese food

Submitted by memorex on Thu, 07/03/2019 - 02:51

In my country, the most popular food is Chinese-Peruvian food (also known as chifa). Another food which is popular is Italian food, especially pizza. I like it a lot.
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Submitted by krig on Fri, 22/02/2019 - 05:08

In my country people mostly prefer traditional meal. From other cuisines are popular asian (shawarma), italian (pizza) and japanese (suchi, rolls) ones.
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Submitted by Olena Tsypyashchuck on Tue, 15/01/2019 - 13:54

I eat out in a restaurant with pleasure, because proffesional food is very delicious. Though, I cook well too. So I like both. In my country Ukraine sushi has become popular recently.

Submitted by YannP on Wed, 02/01/2019 - 18:42

Hi Thanks to British Council for this website which is so helpful to improve my english. In the transcript of Big Meal Scene 1, at 0:26, it's written : "we have got some friends coming to ours tonight" I think that maybe a word was forgotten. It seems to me that Ash says : "we have got some friends coming OVER to ours tonight" What do you think about it ? Thanks for all, Yann
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Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 02/01/2019 - 20:40

In reply to by YannP


Hello Yann

Yes, you're right, Ashlie clearly says 'coming over to ours'. I've corrected the transcript accordingly.

Thanks very much for taking the time to tell us about this!

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by chen2qu on Thu, 15/11/2018 - 13:43

I prefer eating at home because my mom lives together with us and she cooks for us. I can have the tastes I love from my childhood. I live in Beijing. Here are several popular foreign foods, like Japanese food, Thai food, and Italian food.

Submitted by cenzino.scaringi on Thu, 01/11/2018 - 18:16

I live in a small village in an Italian region called Tuscany. This is a rural area, our hills are scattered with plants and trees typical of the Mediterranean scrub. The wild boar is the true king of our land. So the food in our area is very typical and the recipes are almost the same of the medieval centuries. In the Italian cities is different, of course, and also in Italy, like in the UK, the most popular foreign food is the Chinese food.

Submitted by cenzino.scaringi on Thu, 01/11/2018 - 18:01

I love both. I like eating at home especially when my wife and/or I have plenty of time. Then we can prepare carefully our favourite recipes. I'm quite good at making a tasty bread or some delicious recipes of pasta with seafood, and I like going shopping buying special ingredients. My wife and I prefer going to the restaurant when we don't feel like cooking or when we would love something special which we are not able to cook, fried fish, for exemple, but we also like going around getting some tasty and spicy street food.
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Submitted by huang yuening on Fri, 21/09/2018 - 10:45

Dear sir, This is a great website for English learners. I recommend it to all my friends who'd like to learn English. But we all have the same problem when we want to watch the videos. None of us can open any of the videos stored in this website whether on computers or mobile phones. Can you tell us why and and how to solve the problem? Many thanks. Huang yuening.
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Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 21/09/2018 - 19:45

In reply to by huang yuening


Hello Huang yuening,

Have you tried using our Chinese language site? Most of the site is still in English and our audio and video content there is optimised for users in China.

If that doesn't help you, please let us know.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Dania92 on Tue, 24/07/2018 - 17:17

i do not like cooking so i prefer eating outside also there is many foreign food like indian food and chainese food