Home > Chinese Culture > Chinese Cuisine >

Chinese Table Manners

Table manners,as the name suggests, is the common sense of etiquette on the table when having a meal. According to the literature records, at least in the Zhou Dynasty, the diet etiquette had formed a set of quite perfect system to show the appearance of a great power, the state of etiquette and the civilization. Familiarity with Chinese table manners and other elements of Chinese culture can speed up your personal or business contacts in unexpected situations.

In China, people always share dishes. To facilitate sharing, square and rectangular tables are usually used for small groups, while round tables are used for large groups. If the round table is very large, it usually has a turntable to facilitate delivery or serving dishes. It symbolizes harmony and is practical to use.

Give a seat to a "guest of honor" or the oldest member of the family with the best view of the room. The "seat of honor" is usually the one facing the entrance to the room, or if there is no seat facing the entrance, the one facing east in the middle of the room. The worst part is where the waiter serves. If attending the banquet, the most important tables for the guests will be placed in the front and middle of the dining hall. It is better to wait until the elder is seated.

During the Meal Time
1. Let the Old Man Eat First
When eating in China, people always wait until their elders say "let's eat" and everyone starts eating. The idea of respecting the old is very strong. Therefore, we must eat after the elders say so. In addition, we are encouraged to pick up food for our elder relatives, which is a polite and respective behavior. If our grandparents or parents bring food for our children, we should also say thank you politely.

2. Collocation of Food
The meal usually begins with  some cold dishes, followed by a hot meat main course, then the soup, then the staple food, from rice to noodles to dumplings. If you want rice to go with other dishes, you should say so in time, because most Chinese choose to eat the staple food at the end, or not at all.

3. Drinks
Formal meals are usually accompanied by tea, beer or liquor. The one who sit closest to the teapot or wine bottle should pour them for others from the senior and superior to the junior and inferior. You should be thankful when someone pours your wine. If you want to have a drink at a formal dinner, you must first propose a toast to another guest,  and he or she will respond with a drink. If you're toasted and don't want to drink, just  sip little as a gesture.

4. Don't stick your chopsticks in a bowl of rice.
It will be considered very impolite to the host and the elders present. The reason is because  when a person dies,  people often place a bowl of sand or rice in their shrine, with two sticks of incense sticking up inside. So, if you stick your chopsticks in a rice bowl, it looks like  praying for death at a table.

5. Keep your eating pace in line with others.
6. Don't smoke  during meals.
7. Be polite when using chopsticks to pick up food.
8. Don't make a noise while eating or drinking soup.
9. Don't talk with your mouth full.
10. Don't point or play with your chopsticks.
11. Pick your teeth with a toothpick.

A Chinese banquet usually lasts about two hours,  and ends when the host stands up for a final toast. Then you should thank the host for his hospitality and leave. In some cases, you can invite the host to your future party. If you want to leave in the middle of a party, explain to your host why and thank him for his hard work. Remember don't invite other guests to leave with you, or the party will end early. These rules of etiquette also apply to ordinary Chinese food in restaurants.

Related Articles & Posts

Ask a Quick Question


China Adventure