Tips on Customs and Etiquette in Chinese Dining🥢🍵

It’s a tradition to gather friends and family and enjoy a celebrative meal during Chinese festivals like Lunar New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival and Winter Solstice. Here are some useful tips on customs and etiquette in Chinese dining!  ©



Chopsticks are the main tableware in Chinese dining culture. Being passed down from generation to generation for more than 4 thousand years, it has become an indispensable tool in Chinese’s everyday meals. Here are some tips on how to use chopsticks properly. To start with, remember not to use them to tap cups, plates and bowls on the table. In the past, beggars used chopsticks to knock the bowls to attract others’ attention in the street. Hence, this act is regarded as impolite on the dining table. Also, chopsticks cannot be inserted vertically up in the rice bowl because this looks like incense burning at ancestral worship. While chatting with your family and friends, don’t forget to put down your chopsticks to prevent pointing at others or poking them accidentally. Another rule is not to treat your chopsticks as toys to spin or clip others’ chopsticks.  ©



Since the Tang Dynasty, Chinese tea has become popular and was exported to different countries around the world. In Chinese dining, hot tea is often served on the table. There are many choices of tea including Shou Mei, Pu-erh, Jasmine, Shui Hsien, Tieguanyin, Chrysanthemum tea, etc. When serving tea to others, don’t forget the rule of just filling 70% of the teacup, this means you treasure the tea which is a gift from your guest. While holding the teapot, use your right hand to hold the handle and put your left hand on top of the lid to prevent it from falling. We usually serve the elderly, ladies and guests first to show our respect. When others serve you tea, don’t forget to say thank you or make use of a traditional custom – knocking on the table gently for three times, to show your gratefulness: when the elders serve you tea, crawl your fingers to a fist; for peers, use both your index finger and middle finger; for the younger ones, you can simply use either your index or middle finger. ©



Napkin helps us to maintain a neat and tidy appearance while dining. It can prevent food stains on our clothes; we can also use it to lightly wipe our lips. When seated, take the napkin from the table, gently fold it into half and cover it on our laps. Remember not to hang it around your collar! If there is any stain on the napkin, you can just fold it to keep the dirty area inside. When leaving your seats in the middle of the meal, you can put the napkin on the chair. After the meal, fold it and place it back on the table. ©


While Dining:©

Chinese cuisiuse is usually served in sharing plate (familly style). During dining, remember to use the serving chopsticks to pick the food on side of plate that is near to you, don’t try to pick food that is at the farther side of a plate. In Chinese banquets, turntables are commonly used. Remember to make up your mind on the dish you selected to avoid keep spinning the turntable around.

Nowadays, western cutleries now appear on the Chinese dining table as well. When MobiChef provides table setting service for Chinese meals, sometimes knife and fork would also be prepared to suit the menu. While having food like abalone and sea cucumber, use knife and fork to divide them just like having steaks. To keep the food juicy, finish the piece on your plate before cutting another one. Maintain some distance between your elbow and the table, and don’t spread your arms wide so as to avoid hitting the one next to you. When having soup, use a spoon and avoid making any noises. Don’t hold up the whole bowl and drink loudly! If there is fish in the menu, better not to flip the fish over since this traditionally means sinking a fish boat. After the meal, remember not to say “I finished the meal” as this means death in Chinese culture – not having the chance to eat anymore. You can instead say “I’m already full”!©


Family & Friends:©

Chinese culture emphasizes on giving respect to seniority, hence, we usually invite the elders and important guests to the seat of honor which are furthest away from the house entrance. Before starting the meal, we would first toast to others to celebrate the joy of gathering and say “let’s start the meal!”. Then, we usually take care of the elderly and guests first and serve them food. Furthermore, in Chinese dining, round tables symbolize “reunion”. Thus, try to put down your phone, spend some time to chat with your family and friends, and treasure the happy moments!©

Hope the above tips could help you know more about the dos and don’ts in Chinese dining and have fun at the festive celebrations! ©mobichef.c

Happy Chinese New Year in advance!om