You often see chinese families going out for dinner or lunch. Also breakfast a lot of busy workers eat on a restaurant. Maybe that is the reason why you get a big dinner for no money at all. Eating together also is a social activity where familymembers or friends get a cnase to hear about latest news or gossip.
One popular restaurant is these family-mart. I saw them in most bigger cities in China. I think you could call it a fastfood restaurant. The difference is that you are also able to buy some groceries, bread, soda and beer for taking home. They often serve a diffferent kind of noodle soup with sticks that contains things like meat, tofu and vegetables. These fastfood restaurants are open 24/7.
This is a noodle soup with dumplings you'll get for 30 yuan(about 4,5$). It is enough food for 2 persons. Här ser du en nudelsoppa med dumplins för 30 yuan. Denna skål är mat för två personer. Med ris betalar du runt 31 yuan(cirka 40 skr).
The advantage with many of these noodle restaurants is that you are able to choose what you want in the soup or dish. Sometimes it is difficult to recognize but I beleive this is better then reading chinese signs on a menu. You collect what you would like in your soup, leave it by the cashier and then someone is cooking everything and serve it by your tabel.
Some places give you an extra discount an hour before closing. Here youve different types of vegetables, tofu, kelp, beefstow with beans and rice for 43 yuan. It is enough for two people. I promise. This is Shun wang ji you'll find on 696 Zhong Shan Lu, wuxi. I think if you arrvied here later then 18:30 you got a big discount on the food. On this restaurant you alos pick food along a long desk and then pay when you get to the cashier.
This is how a traditional menu looks like in a traditional chinese restaurant. The staff mostly just talk chinese and are not able to understand or speak english. I made some progress by using an android application called iTalk where I could get wifi but I think you'll save a lot of time by going to a noodle restaurant or McDonalds/KFC instead. You download the iTalk app on google play before you go because you are not able to reach any google applications in China.
This is Ma La Doufu or Map doufu. A dish I found delicious. I give you a recipe here>>>
This kind of fried rice also tasted marvellous.
This is another popular dish that is a variant of dumplins. These are called Ganmodoki and are made the same way as dumplings but instead of flour they use Tofu. Ganmodoki means pseudo Goose because the taste reminds of goose soup. Tofu got the trait to tighten up spices and flavours and this makes it a good item to use in different dishes.