Figuring out what you want to eat at a restaurant is almost as difficult as picking a restaurant in the first place. As if knowing what you're in the mood for isn't challenging enough, decoding the menu can often be just as stressful.

Sauces and condiments are particularly tricky to figure out. There are so many kinds from around the world and even one sauce can have multiple variations that can completely change its flavor.

Become a sauce pro by studying the list of sauces below to be prepared for any topping that comes your way on a menu.

1. Hollandaise Sauce

You may be most familiar with this yellow sauce as the final topping over Eggs Benedict. To make hollindaise sauce, combine egg yolk, butter, a little lemon juice and a pinch of salt and cayenne pepper. These ingredients make the warm, creamy and buttery sauce with a hint of zest that hollindaise sauce is. 

Next time you're in the mood for this tasty, creamy sauce try making one of the many delicious variations of Eggs Benedict.

2. Chutney

apple, garlic, tomato, pepper, vegetable
Brooke Daly

Chutney is an Indian condiment that is used in dishes served around the world. This sauce can be made in an assortment of ways by the selection of ingredients. Depending on the ingredients, which are usually thick, jammy, and little bits of fruits and vegetables, the flavor can range from sweet to savory and spicy.

Typical Indian chutney is known to contain tomatoes, curry leaves, pickles, onions and chili. There is, however, a variety of chutney specific to each region of India. Western chutney tends to be a fruit based, sugary reduction — like this mango-apple chutney.

Thankfully, most menus will specify what kind of chutney they are serving so you won't be in too much shock when you take your first bite of food. 

3. Foie Gras

steak, pork, bacon
Ming-Ray Liao

Foie gras is French delicacy that translates to “fat liver". Foie gras is made of duck or goose and is usually served on special occasions. It can be eaten by itself or with other foods. 

For an appetizer, a slice of foie gras can be plated on top of white or brown bread. During a main course, it can be placed on top of a meat dish, such as a steak or burger, for extra flavor. While this sauce is delicious to many, there has been much controversy about the way the ducks and geese are treated to make the sauce.

4. Colatura di Alici 

This sauce may be less familiar to you but it's actually common in many popular Italian dishes. Colatura di Alici is an anchovy sauce that brings the authentic flavor of the fish without the time and hassle of cooking and preparing fillets. 

It is made by placing anchovies caught off the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy in wooden barrels in between layers of sea salt. Once the anchovies are in the barrels, pressure is put on slowly on top of the barrel until enough juice is produced to drain from the bottom.

Colatura di Alici mixes great with simple ingredients like olive oil and garlic. Put this combo on some spaghetti pasta and you are guaranteed for a good meal.

5. Vegemite or Marmite

chocolate, sweet, pastry, toast, cake, bread
Lauren Thiersch

Though it is often called the Australian version of the peanut butter and jelly, Vegemite is savory and salty, unlike the sweet flavors of a PB&J. Marmite is basically the British equivalent to Vegemite and both are rich in vitamin B. 

Vegemite is the well-known Australian spread used on breakfast, lunch and snack foods. It is often served on toast for breakfast or in a lunch sandwich. Vegemite primarily contains yeast extract from barley and wheat that is said to come from the leftovers of brewers. Other ingredients are malt extract, salt and various spices. 

6. Tahini

meat, vegetable, salad
Kristine Mahan

Tahini is a dip, condiment and ingredient used in other sauces. The Tahini paste is made of ground up sesame seeds. To add flavor, ingredients like oil, lemon juice and garlic are added. It is light, zesty and fairly refreshing.

Tahini is often found in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food. A few examples of uses of tahini are as a dip for vegetables and pita, on a gyro sandwich and mixed into hummus. It also makes a great salad dressing.

7. Unagi “eel” sauce

wasabi, salmon, sauce, teriyaki, rice, tuna, sushi
Hannah Cooper

No worries, there is not ground eel in Unagi sauce. This sauce got its name not only because unagi means eel in Japanese, but because as it is typically paired with freshwater eel dishes such as in sushi rolls.

Unagi sauce is a thick, dark brown color sauce that has an essence of both sweet and salty flavors. To make unagi sauce, mirin, a Japanese sweet wine, is poured into a saucepan with sake. Sugar is added and once it is completely dissolved soy sauce is added at low heat. 

8. Tartar sauce

chips, fish, fish and chips, chicken
Savannah Carter

Tartar sauce is a very popular condiment on a variety of foods such as fish, fries and burgers. There are many different varieties of tarter sauce but it is fairly simple to make.

Each sauce is made of either a mayonnaise or aioli base. From there, a chef can add different ingredients such as dill, capers, chopped pickles, onions and other flavor enhancers that pair well with the dish it is served with.

If you're a picky eater and the menu only says “tartar sauce” it might not be bad idea to ask your waiter exactly what is in it because your whole meal could have a different flavor.

9. Hoisin 

Hoisin is a sauce often used in Asian cuisines. Ingredients include peanut butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic powder, water and sometimes starch like wheat or cornstarch. If a spicy flavor is desired chili peppers or hot sauce can be added. 

Similar to unagi sauce, hoisin sauce is dark in color and dense, but it has a very distinct taste. Popular dishes to use hoisin sauce in are Peking duck, pork, spring rolls and in stir fry.

10. Aioli 

guacamole, beef, meat, lettuce, bread, sandwich, avocado
Parisa Soraya

Aioli is another sauce that can be created with a large variety of ingredients. What classifies this sauce as aioli is its two common ingredients: garlic and olive oil.

Aioli is often light and creamy, almost like a thinner mayonnaise texture. Being that it can be made numerous ways, it pairs well with many different types of food such as steak, sandwiches and seafood. This sauce is guaranteed to take your meal to the next level, especially a smoked paprika aioli sauce

No more being scared to order food because it comes with some odd sauce you don't know about. Whether you like creamy, spicy or tangy, there are tons of options to pair with your meal. Now go on and impress your date, your waiter and even your parents with this newfound knowledge of sauce.