China Food Culture

Chinese dining table

I am going to introduce some China food culture which are practiced across the territory of China as well as any Chinese societies worldwide.

You would of course expect some minor deviations according to geographies. For example, rice in China is served in a big bowl to be shared among your group. However in Hong Kong, it is served in a small bowl good for one person.

use of chopsticks 2 use of chopsticks 1

China Food Culture One: Chopsticks

Chopsticks are widely used in Asian cuisines. However if you have not had a chance to get acquainted to it, let’s do a little exercise here.

Chopsticks are used in pairs. The inner one which is closer to you is basically in a fixed position. All you need to do is to use your thumb, second and third finger to trigger movement of the outer one. Try it out. You won’t find it difficult.

China Food Culture Two: Chinese Tea

Tea is extremely important in China food culture. It is never absent on a Chinese dinning table. Chinese love tea and treat it as an art. However there is a practical reason to have tea with Chinese food.

Tea dilutes the fat that you taken during the meal. It helps cleansing your body and gets rid of the excess fat. So it is extremely healthy.

In a Chinese restaurant, tea is usually charged per person. However in casual dining restaurants, they are usually free.

Chinese tea has wide varieties of flavours. It is a personal preference of which one to order. Here is a list of the most popular tea available at any Chinese restaurant.

tea refill

• Pu Er 普洱
• Tie Guan Yin 鐵觀音
• Xiang Pian 香片
• Shui Xian 水仙
• Shou Mei 寿眉

All these Chinese tea are extremely aromatic. Pu Er and Tie Guan Yin are both my favourites. However I would suggest you to try them all. Order a different one for each of your meal.

There is a custom of lifting the lid of the tea pot. This is a signal to tell waiters that you need a refill.

China Food Culture Three: Eating Together

Another important China food culture is that we eat together. Chinese food is meant for sharing. Don’t ever try to order a fish for yourself and a chicken for your partner. Order both and eat together. If you do not feel comfortable of sharing food, try to ask for a pair of spare chopsticks and spoon for common use.

If a particular dish is served on a one-person base, it is usually indicated in the menu.

China Food Culture Four: Do Not Ask for Split Bills

In China, each table is a chargeable unit. Waiters don’t have the concept of bill splitting. Therefore, please get one person to pay for the group and then split the bill yourself.

If you find chipping in each time inconvenient, I’ll suggest you doing it my way. When I travel with a group of friends, we usually chip in a lump sum to be used as a meal and transport fund. Assign a fund manager to pay the bills from the fund. This will save the trouble of chipping in every time.

Service Charges and Others

10% service charge is added to the bill. Casual dining might omit this. Additional tipping is up to you. You might pay a little more in appreciation of the good service.

In some restaurants, waiters might bring you non-ordered snacks which is automatically added to your bill.

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