The Right Way to Dine: Dining Etiquette Across Asian Countries
Asian cuisine will always be a gastronomic adventure that should be enjoyed by all. However, there are cultural etiquettes that you should keep in mind. Following the dining code does not only honor the longstanding history and lifelong traditions of whichever cuisine you’re enjoying, but it also allows you to fully maximize the dining experience just like any local would.
There’s no need to be intimidated! Eating your favorite Asian dishes the right and respectful way can allow you to find a deeper appreciation over the food you usually take for granted! We’ve compiled a couple of Asian dining etiquette from several countries, so you can practice at home and take the knowledge with you once it’s time to experience it firsthand!
Chinese Tea Etiquette
Just like with food, serving Chinese tea to others first is very important. You might be tempted to immediately refill your cup for some immediate dose of calm but it’s respectful to pour another person’s cup, even if it's done quietly. Plus, you must remain relaxed and calm when offered tea. Don’t drink it all at once but sip and savor the flavors so you can nourish, relax, and refresh your mind and palate fully.
Japanese Sushi Etiquette
Sushi chefs delicately prepare your sushi, so every bite already contains a perfect balance of saltiness from the soy sauce and spiciness from the wasabi. Usually, you wouldn’t need to add more flavor but if the chef gives you free rein over your beloved sushi, you’re free to dip it in soy sauce. Just make sure to dip it fish-side down so the rice doesn’t fall apart! Whether you’re using your hands or chopsticks, make sure you ace your sushi manners by not breaking your sushi apart. Proper sushi etiquette dictates that you eat the nigiri sushi in one bite.
Korean Banchan Etiquette
Banchan refers to the two to ten side dishes that you can find in a Korean dining table. The usual banchan set includes kimchi, stir-fried vegetables, seasoned soybeans, pickled radish, potato salad, dried anchovies, Korean pancake, quail eggs, and more. You might be used to having a protein-starch-vegetable food setup, but with a smorgasbord of Korean side dishes, you can’t just finish one side dish after another. It’s more exciting to mix and match flavors! What you want to do is take a bite of rice, followed by one or two bites of banchan, then another bite of rice. Enjoy all the flavors and feel free to play with the order of banchan and protein consumption!
Vietnamese Pho Etiquette
The exciting thing about eating pho is that anything goes! Add all the garnishes you want, whether it’s sprouts, cilantro, lime, peppers, and feel free to indulge in as much hoisin or sriracha you want. Since, you have full control over your pho flavors, let others enjoy the freedom to experiment with their own flavors too by not dictating which ingredients to add and not add. Slurping is allowed but don’t overdo it! You wouldn’t want to disturb the soothing effect of a warm bowl of pho with loud sounds of your slurping and splashing of broth here and there.
Filipino Dipping Sauce Etiquette
We’ve talked about all these rules, but when it comes to dipping sauces in the Philippines, there are no rules! Dipping sauces, or sawsawan in Tagalog, like vinegar and soy sauce are usually mixed with spicy chili peppers or calamansi juice for an explosion of flavors that can enhance your meats and fishes. These two are just some of many other sawsawan in Filipino cuisine. Who knows? You might discover a new combination of dipping sauces that works for your taste buds!
Thai Utensil Etiquette
In Thailand, people eat with a spoon in the right hand and fork in the left. The spoon will hold your food, while the fork shouldn’t be put into your mouth. Food that is not eaten with rice, like fruit, is alright to eat with a fork. Chopsticks are only used for Thai noodle dishes and not for rice-based dishes. Finally, you may eat sticky rice with your fingers using your right hand. It might sound like a lot of things to keep in mind but these rules can never take away the deliciousness of Thai food!