Why is chinese food so great

Eating Chinese - the round table

Last updated 2 months ago

Chinese food is a very special pleasure. It's especially fun with Chinese friends! But there are a few rules to follow when eating at the round table.

Eating Chinese: What Should You Know?

  • In China, people don't go to restaurants primarily to satisfy their hunger. You invite friends and relatives, you want to Fun and Entertainment. But first and foremost you want to cultivate your relationships, with business friends, friends or relatives. *
  • Usually he orders hostwho ultimately pays the bill. Nevertheless, at the end of a fine dinner there is always a dispute about who pays. Everyone wants the privilege. And this dispute also contributes to the reputation of the host. As a rule, it is clear from the start who will pay.
  • Alone in the restaurant eating is still uncommon. Even eating for two does not seem very pleasant to a Chinese. This has only been slowly changing in the last few years. You can sip a noodle soup on the side of the road by yourself. A bowl of rice and vegetables in a small restaurant serves to fill you up. *
  • So it's a matter of going to the restaurant with as many people as possible. That brings recognition and Prestigious.
  • A restaurant in China doesn't necessarily have to have a toilet!
  • The food lasts right up to the point when everyone has finished eating. No more long chatting, no more cozy beer afterwards. No: Ready to eat, pay and go!

As a German, you stand out in a Chinese restaurant because everyone wants to order individually, have their own dish and then everyone only wants to pay for what they have ordered. This confuses the waiters and Chinese friends and can lead to a big mess.

Eating in China - my experiences

Since I've traveled a lot alone in China, especially in times when you weren't used to strangers, my appearance in the restaurant often led to the strangest situations. For example, a screen was set up to protect me from the prying eyes of other guests. Or waiters and guests stood around me and stared at every bite I put in my mouth.

Whenever I'm in China, I try not to eat out alone. This has other advantages as well.

The noodle soup on the corner

What does the Chinese food look like in the restaurant?

  • The more important the occasion, the more opulent the meal becomes
  • Group dinners usually order one or two more dishes than the number of participants to avoid running out of food. The “face” also plays an important role: the more you order, the more generous the host appears.
  • The table is round. In the middle there is a plate that can be turned.
  • The ordered dishes are served on the platter. There is also the pot with tea.
  • The tea is mostly free. Hot water is always refilled.
  • There is a set for everyone around the platter, consisting of a plate, a bowl, chopsticks and a napkin. Western cutlery and glasses and cups for tea may also be added.
  • It is frowned upon to fish for the best pieces with the chopsticks in the bowls. Or even to let something that has been picked up fall back again.
  • Rice is a filling side dish. If you end up eating rice, you show that you haven't been full. This is a grave insult to the host. In areas visited by tourists, however, you get used to the fact that Germans definitely want the rice right at the beginning of a meal.
  • Soup comes at the very end. A soup in China consists of a light, watery broth. All "soups" that have more fillings are considered a main course. The soup is used at the end of a meal to finish off the last leftovers from the bowl.
  • In the end, there should traditionally be something left over. This is also changing. See “Food Waste” below.
  • A little fruit is usually served as dessert.

The round attachment is used like a buffet. Everyone can take what they want and try everything. It is not unusual to rummage through the bowls with your own chopsticks. However, serving spoons can be found more and more often.

The serving spoon

As I said, it is customary in China for everyone to take their food out of the bowl with their own chopsticks. In times of the coronavirus (2020), it is of course not recommended. The use of serving spoons or special serving chopsticks when eating Chinese is increasingly recommended.

On March 9, the Beijing Culinary Association and the Beijing Gastronomy Industry Association jointly published a proposal calling on all Beijing restaurants to provide separate chopsticks and spoons. Because sharing a meal together is still encouraged. Chopsticks and sauce spoons used together must be carefully cleaned and disinfected, the proposal says.

For dishes like the Dutch Oven that have to be cooked at the table, special chopsticks and spoons for raw foods should be provided. The public should also be informed with electronic information boards, posters in restaurants etc. that it is better not to take anything from the divided bowls and plates in the middle of the table with your own chopsticks. CRI

At a banquet or gala dinner

Which drink goes well with Chinese food?

The Chinese like to drink warm or weak water with their meals green tea. That is considered healthy. That is why there is usually always a pot of hot tea on the table. Or someone keeps coming by and pouring.

I personally like chinese beer to eat. The beer is pleasantly dry and contains less alcohol than German beer.

Until a few years ago it was Grape wine relatively unknown. Good wine could and can be very expensive. Even today one can experience that in simple restaurants no wine is offered at all.

In contrast, it is indispensable Liquor, which is mainly used at business lunches. You toast yourself with it. "Ganbei!" = "Empty the glass!" is the usual toast. That sustains the - business - friendship.

There are of course also the usual soft drinks. At Group travel it is customary to have a large bottle of Cola and Sprite on each table. Sometimes there is also beer. That is included in the price. More drinks or even wine have to be ordered and paid for separately.

There are also good ones in the big cities alcohol-free beer. This is particularly what you get in the increasingly popular vegetarian restaurants.

The ultimate tip for eating Chinese

Regardless of the rules, faux pas: the foreign guest is forgiven for a lot. If you are unsure, wait a moment! Watch what the others are doing.

Eating alone or as a couple in China

A lot has happened in recent years. The noodle soup on the roadside has been supplemented by numerous small restaurants that are primarily geared towards the needs of the many young people.

Small tables for a maximum of 2 to 4 people, quickly prepared dishes such as soups and plates are popular with the employees in the big cities. During the lunch break or when meeting in the evening. Very practical and convenient! An example: Malatang Restaurant

Campaign against food waste

In 2020, a large-scale campaign against food waste was launched in China. With a lot of education, the restaurant visitors should also be encouraged not to leave any more leftovers. If necessary, you can have the leftovers packed up to take away.

There has long been a call to thrift in China. The nationwide “Empty Plate” initiative was launched back in 2013. However, this does not seem to have stopped food waste. According to statistics from the "Report on Food Waste in Chinese City Restaurants", an average of 93 grams of food per person per meal is wasted in China, which corresponds to a waste rate of eleven percent. For large meals together, it is even 38 percent. That is, more than a third of the food is thrown away.

It is suggested that restaurants inform customers of the appropriate amount when ordering. The gastronomy and cooking associations of many provinces have also called for restaurants to not encourage customers to order too much, to provide half portions and to mark customers who have emptied their plates in a certain way. The appeals have already found supporters. Famous restaurant brands such as KFC and Pizza Hut encourage their customers, for example, to actively participate in the “Empty Plate” initiative. China Radio International

My insider tip for Hamburg

If you want to try authentic Chinese food, then the Chinese at the Fleet is the place for you! Original spicy Hunan cuisine is served here, with lots of chilli and fresh vegetables. Chinese like to come here. There is also a very special menu for the Chinese guests. You have to try it!

And if you know a good Chinese restaurant in your city, tell me about it!

China restaurants in Hamburg

Yu Garden

Thyme in Wandsbeck

Man Wah Spielbudenplatz

Copperhouse St. Pauli - with show cooking

I got to know these restaurants personally and can recommend them.


Have fun eating in China!

On my Bambooblog you can find it in the section “Culinary” some recipes of my favorite Chinese dishes.

Born in 1955. China expert for many years. Let yourself be infected by my enthusiasm for China and the world and follow me to the most beautiful places in China!
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