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Updated by Joanna James on Jul 13, 2023
Headline for A list of Chinese table manners - Discover traditional Chinese etiquette
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A list of Chinese table manners - Discover traditional Chinese etiquette

Chinese dining decorum forms a major part of the country's culture and includes rules around chopstick etiquette, seating arrangements, and how to order dishes. Read on to find out more.


Seating arrangements

As a general rule, the best seat is considered to be on the left facing the gate and towards the east and is usually offered to an elder or the main guest. The most important table serving or seating the main guests will usually be in the middle or front of a restaurant hall. When being seated, wait for the elders in the group to be seated first.


How to order dishes in China

Ordering dishes play an important role in good Chinese table and dining manners. Usually, if time permits, a menu is offered and circulated among the people in attendance. If you are hosting the meal, it will be up to you to make the final decision after taking into consideration others' suggestions and opinions. If you are a guest, make sure to order a commonly -favorite and inexpensive dish. Good table manners advocate that diners must consider the dietary restrictions of others. When visiting China, it is always a good idea to respect and follow the local dining etiquette. This is a great way to try local specialties especially if dining in many a Xian Chinese restaurant including the in-house restaurants at hotels the likes of Grand Park Xian.


Eating etiquette in China

The Chinese are rather particular about food, as well as how they look when eating. After being seated, the servers will offer a hot towel to wipe one's hands. When there are dishes such as lobster being served, a bowl of water will be offered to cleanse your hands. As a standard, in Chinese banquet dining, cold dishes are served first, followed by soup, hot dishes, the main course followed by dim sum and fruits. Some important manners to follow include being polite and graceful when picking up food with chopsticks, not making noise when eating soup, not talking with a full mouth, and most importantly not pointing at someone with chopsticks or even playing with them, as it is considered the height of rudeness.


Drinking etiquette in China

China by the West Zhou Dynasty in 1046BC – 771BC, had a complete drinking etiquette established. It advocates being moderate in drinking, at the right time and complying with the etiquette. Proposing a toast at a Chinese banquet is very common, and some pointers to follow include standing up and holding the glass with both your hands and if you are offering the toast to the people in attendance, making sure to know the order according to status and age.


Etiquette to follow when leaving

In Chinese culture, good etiquette doesn't end at the table, it also includes leaving or retiring politely. Make sure to show your appreciation to the host, and invite him or her for a meal with you. In the event, that you have to leave the meal halfway, ensure that you explain the situation to the host and offer your apologies.

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