Chinese Dining Etiquette

As a state of ceremonies, China has always attached great importance to etiquette. Chinese dining etiquette is an important portion of Chinese food culture. Good dining etiquette and table manners can show one’s good self-cultivation and leave good impression to your Chinese host. We have sorted some basic dining etiquette for you at the following. Do in Rome as Rome dose!

Table/Place Settings/Seating Order/ Introduction Etiquette

Table

In China, people share dishes communally. In order to permit easy sharing, square and rectangular tables are normally used for small groups of people, while round tables for large groups. If the round table is very large, then it usually has a Lazy Susan turntable to facilitate passing or serving dishes.

Round Table

Place Settings

In restaurants, a basic place-setting includes a set of chopsticks, a spoon, a small teacup, a large plate and a rice bowl. In a more formal occasion, a chopstick holder, a large water or wine glass and a small glass for baijiu are provided. Tissues are provided on the table in low-end restaurants, while high-end restaurants provide cloth napkins as part of the place-settings.

Place-setting

Seating Order

In a formal dinner, the seating order is very strict. Chinese seating order is based on seniority and organizational hierarchy. In general, the seat of honor is usually the one in the center facing east or facing the entrance. This seat is usually reserved for the guest with highest status or a foreign guest of honor. Others with higher status sit in close proximity to the seat of honor, and those with positions sit further away. While as a host, he may take the least prominent seat, usually the one nearest the kitchen entrance or service door. Only after the senior or the guest of honor sit down, other people can be seated.

Seating Order

Introduction Etiquette

When you take self-introduction, you should introduce yourself after nodding to other people and receiving response. The introduction should be concise and comprehensive and about half a minute. When you are introduced by other people, you should stand up as well as your introducer, and after the introduction, you can take your seat.

Table Manners in Dining

Eating

Guest should start eating after the host gives a sign to start eating.
Don’t pick up too much food in your bowl at once, and you should eat up the food in the bowl first and then pick up more food.
Quiet and slow chewing will suggest your good manner.
When you pick up food, don’t touch people next to you and remember, it’s not polite to push the food out of the plate and spill the soup.
Talk to other people with a full mouth is also impolite.
Don’t eat the food which is dropped on the table.
When you pick your teeth, use your hand or napkin to cover in front of your mouth.

Drinking

Toast is a very important part in a Chinese banquet. In formal banquet, alcohol should be consumed during toasts. A modest toast may be followed by a single sip of wine or swallow of beer, but a baijiu toast is often ended with Ganbei (an exhortation to drain the glass). Normally, glassed are refilled immediately following a toast in preparation for the next round.
The normal sequence of toast is: first, the host proposes a toast to the guest of honor, second, Peike (a guest invited to help entertain the guest of honor) proposes a toast to the guest of honor, then the guest of honor proposes a toast in return, at last, Peike will toast to each other. Remember: as a guest, don’t usurp the host’s role to toast everyone, that’s an disrespectful gesture to the host.

After Finishing the Meal

Paying Bill

As a guest, you should argue for the opportunity to pay the bill, but always give in and graciously accept the hospitality of your host. If you insist on paying the bill, this insinuates that your host cannot afford to pay the bill.

Leaving the Banquet

If you want to leave in the middle of the banquet, explain to your host why you are leaving early and express that you’re sorry for leaving early, and then express your appreciation to the host’s hospitality. Remember: do not invite other guests to leave with you. In that case, the banquet will be over in advance.
If you are leaving after the banquet, please express your thanks to the host for his hospitality, in some case, you can make an invitation to the host to your banquet.

Dining Taboo

  • Do not lick the food attaching on the chopsticks and don’t use them to move the bowl or plate.
  • Do not use your chopsticks to strike the bowl or tea cup.
  • Do not stick your chopsticks vertically into your food owing to a Chinese practice of leaving such dishes for the dead.
  • Do not “dig” or “search through one’s food for something in particular. This is sometimes known as “digging one’s grave” and is extremely poor manners.
  • Do not use chopsticks to point at other people or to wave them around.
  • Do not spearing food with the chopsticks.

Chopstics Taboos

Tips to How to Use Chopsticks

How to Use Chopsticks

How to Use Chopsticks

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