The Etiquette of Eating in China

News and Travel Editor

In this week’s upload, Coco is reunited with blogger Hyper Trypsy (also known as Shiv) for a final collaboration. This time, it’s all about the etiquette of eating and how to throw the perfect Chinese dinner party.

Feeling hungry? Let’s get started.

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….And usually with their back to a wall. The next highest ranking person, such as an important guest, sits to the right of the host. At this dinner party, Shiv is the host and Coco is his esteemed guest. Okay, so we’re seated…now what?

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Once everyone is settled, it’s time to let the waiter know you’re ready for the menu. Hold up your hand and say Fu Wu Yuan, which means simply ‘waiter’. If you want, you can add ‘caidan’, which means ‘menu’. The waiter will bring you over a menu and it’s time to order.

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It’s important to remember that the host orders for everyone to share. Menus in Chinese restaurants come complete with pictures, so it’s easy to understand what’s on offer even if your Chinese isn’t up to scratch. A good Chinese meal has to be balanced. The dishes should offer a variety of ingredients, cooking methods, flavors, colours and textures.

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Another big responsibility you’ll have as host is leading the first toast. The toast in China is Gan bei, meaning “drain the glass.” Usually, this toast will be made with Baijiu (a strong spirit often made from rice) or  beer. Often, the ‘honoured guest’ is expected to make a toast too, either straight after the host of at the end of the meal.

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Don’t panic when you see multiple pairs of chopsticks set out for you. Use the pale coloured pair to take food from the communal dishes onto your plate. Use the dark pair to eat with. Easy!

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For Westerners, this may take some getting used to, but in China you NEVER split the bill. One person pays for the whole thing each time. Usually, the person who invited you is most likely to pay. Thanks for that, Coco!

Do you have any top tips for eating out at a Chinese restaurant? Were you surprised by any of mine? Let me know in the comments below!

PS, Thanks to our friends at China Bloggers for adding us to their website. Check it out for more from China Icons and other great bloggers exploring all things China.

 

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