Tips for Dining in a Chinese Restaurant for the First Time

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Tips for Dining in a Chinese Restaurant for the First Time

15 April 2019
 Categories: , Blog

If you love the experience of tasting different cuisines by different cultures, then you must try out a Chinese restaurant. The reason is that most Chinese restaurants try to maintain their traditional approach to everything involving food. From preparation to service, the entire process is kept as traditional as possible. Therefore, if you are invited to a Chinese restaurant by a friend, it is good to research a thing or two about dining there. Not only will you have a quiet time as you enjoy your meal, but you may even leave with a new respect for the culture. This article highlights tips for dining in a Chinese restaurant.

Use Chopsticks to Serve Food

In Chinese culture, meal times are communal; therefore, everything is placed in pots and people serve themselves. It is no different in Chinese restaurants, as the waiting service brings an entire course to the table and the guests get to serve. However, there are some pots that do not have serving utensils, and this can be confusing -- especially if people are waiting on you to serve. If there are no serving utensils, use the back end -- not the front -- of your chopsticks to get food. You might think that it is unhygienic because you hold the back end of the chopsticks with your hands. However, there is nothing wrong with that because you will only be picking food that will go to your plate, not another person's. This trick is mostly applicable to solid foods such as dumplings.

Don't Dig Around

As mentioned earlier, Chinese restaurants love the traditional communal meal setting in which food is passed around for self-service. However, some people have a habit of digging around the meal bowl for parts they want to eat. While you might have genuine reasons for digging around communal dishes with your chopsticks, it is considered bad practice as it symbolises grave-digging in Chinese culture. Therefore, when you receive a bowl of food, pick whatever your chopsticks land on first. It will save you the embarrassment if you are caught digging around a bowl.

Don't Flip the Fish

Most Chinese meals are not complete without a full dish which is almost always accompanied by rice. Notably, most people eat a whole fish by starting with the top side and then flipping it over on the other side. However, the action is considered bad luck by traditional Chinese fishermen since it is akin to capsizing your success. The reason is that the fish symbolises a boat and, therefore, flipping it is not any different from turning over a fishing boat. What you are expected to do is remove the bone and proceed without flipping the fish over. It is respectful to your hosts and also to the traditional Chinese fishermen.