23 Etiquette Tips You Need To Know Before Eating At A Real Chinese Restaurant

Put down the soy sauce and no one gets hurt.

1. Chinese dining etiquette is full of significant traditions. Observance reflects well on your family and how they brought you up.


Learn your way around a lazy susan, as everything is done family style.

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2. Leave the ordering to the host.

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You just show up and eat whatever is in front of you.

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3. Bring your appetite because you can count on about 10 courses.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

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4. For food and tea, always serve from oldest to youngest and yourself last.

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5. There will be tea.

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Chrysanthemum, jasmine, and pu-erh tea are popular tea varieties.

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6. The proper way to pour tea is by holding down the lid.

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7. Tap with two fingers as someone is pouring for you to show appreciation.

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This was started by an emperor who often toured his kingdom undercover. He would pour tea for his guards, who couldn’t blow his cover, so they bowed for the honor with their fingers.

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8. Pouring for everyone before yourself means you run out of tea a lot. Signal for more by turning over the lid or propping it ajar.

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9. When making toasts, holding your cup with two hands is a sign of respect.


One handed toasts signals laziness and disrespect. If you’re the oldest at the table, you’re exempt from this — like most things on this list. Do whatever you want, boo.

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10. If you’re someone’s plus one, let the person who invited you serve you. So, if you invited someone, you have to serve him/her.

But don’t start feeding ‘em at the table, cuz that would be weird.

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11. Meals are always kicked off with a soup.

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Adding condiments isn’t common practice (sorry, soy sauce), but for soups, you sometimes add red vinegar and white pepper.

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12. If serving utensils aren’t provided, use the backend of your chopsticks to get food.

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Keep your nasty saliva to yourself.

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13. NEVER stick your chopsticks straight up in your rice. NO.


It’s reminiscent of burning incense upright for the dead, so it’s really bad luck and super rude.

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14. Think of rice as a supporting character. It’s purpose is to be a balancing, palate-cleansing base in a meal.

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Too spicy? Have some rice. Too salty? Have some more rice. Don’t pour soy sauce on it.

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15. Chopsticks are used for picking up food, not spearing food.

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This is not the way chopsticks are used.

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16. Your chopsticks aren’t drumsticks.

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It’s rude but also shaming to yourself as only beggars are known to tap on bowls.

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17. When it’s your turn, don’t dig around with your chopsticks for just the parts you want to eat.

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Digging through the communal dishes is rude because it symbolizes grave digging.

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18. There’s almost always a whole fish. When you’re done with one side, don’t flip the fish.

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Instead, remove the bone and proceed. This tradition started with fisherman for whom the fish symbolized the boat. And as the word for fish sounds like the word for surplus, it also means capsizing your luck.

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19. Finish all your rice or your future spouse will have as many pockmarks on his/her face as there are rice kernels left in your bowl.

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Or, at least that’s what every Chinese kid was told growing up.

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20. When the bill arrives, prepare for battle. ‘Splitting the bill’ doesn’t exist in the Chinese vernacular.

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Even as the guest, it’s impolite not to try to foot the bill. Every Chinese kid has slumped in his/her seat out of embarrassment because the parents are duking it out over the bill. VERY LOUDLY.

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21. Don’t expect a fortune cookie.

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They’re not a Chinese invention.

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22. It’s good manners to make sure your guests have plenty to eat, so the host generally dishes out the most food. If you’re sitting next to the host, prepare to be overfed.

You’ve been warned.

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23. If there aren’t any leftovers, then your host will assume you’re still hungry.

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And they have failed as a host. As stated before, it’s good manners to make sure everyone’s got plenty to eat (read: too much to eat).

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