The Asian Way of Dining

There is an abundance of Asians in the world. Be it Central, East, Southeast or North Asia, there is an abundance of ethnic groups in Asia and all of them have certain mannerisms and etiquettes that are unique to their country. The largest countries in Asia with regard to their population are the People’s Republic of China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Japan, Philippines, Vietnam, Iran, Thailand, Burma, and South Korea. Many of them are alike but yet so different, lets explore a part of their culture pertaining to their dining etiquettes. What would it be to dine with an Asian? Here are few useful facts to be used as a guide for a dining experience with an Asian.

  • In formal or semi-formal situations when dining with an Asian, it’s always best to wait till the host makes the introduction. Self-introduction is usually rare.
  • Showing respect to your elders is a must. It’s a strict accord across many Asian countries. In Vietnam, the young cannot hug the elderly, even in a family. If the elderly person hands you something, you are to receive it with both hands and stoop down by saying ‘Thank you’. This shows utmost respect to an elderly person.
  • The Grooms' Men Eat

  • If you are waiting to be seated at a diner in Cambodia, it is best to wait till the host shows you where to sit. The elders usually sit first and start the meal before others. Do not begin eating until the oldest person in the group has started eating.
  • When you are served Pho in Vietnam, make sure not to slurp it. You are supposed to move your noodles using your chopstick to the spoon where you will eat it out. Also remember not to add hot sauce or Hoisin Sauce into the ‘Pho’, it’s an equivalent to adding ketchup to your chicken noodle soup.
  • Toasts are common in Asian meals too. Be prepared to say many a cheers if you are joining in for a celebration. This is most common in Vietnamese meals, where the host will continue to fill your glass with Rice wine (which is quite strong) so if you feel like you have had enough, do not empty the glass. The traditional way of drinking Rice Wine is from one cup, where the eldest person drinks first and the wine is then passed around to everyone in the group. Asking for a separate cup when everyone else is sharing is considered rude.

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  • Chopsticks are an important part of many Asian cultures however the use of chopsticks is decided by what is served for you. In Thailand, chopsticks aren’t used for every dish. Chopsticks are used to eat Noodles as it originates from China. Vietnamese will have their own bowl and chopsticks to eat however they will share the spoon. When you are done with your meal, politely place your chopsticks inside the bowl. The first child or wife will be in charge of serving rice. You are expected to at least accept 2 bowls of rice before saying ‘I’m Full’.

There are so many nuances to each culture with regards to Dining. Some of the basics have been covered here.

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