Today at dinner with a couple of co-workers we successfully ordered food!
Rod ordered Wo Yao Da Pan Jie (I want big dish chicken) and Wo Yao Mian (I want noodles, whilst pointing at Da Pan Jie) and Pavan ordered Wo Yao Si Wan Mi Fan (I want 4 dishes of rice)!
This represents a great step in our Mandarin as we can now put together rudimentary phrases. The best phrase we've picked up is Wo Yao X (I want) and Wo Xiang Yao X (I would like; similar to Wo Yao but less of a demand and more of a request). Combined with Na Ge (that, as in while pointing) and Je Ge (this, as in something right here, perhaps on a menu) this goes a long way!
Pavan managed Wo Xiang Yao Re Shui (I would like hot water) as well and hot water indeed materialized!
We've started practicing phrases from our basic Mandarin book but the majority are just pronunciation exercises rather than serious attempts to learn and retain new words.