Using Chopsticks on Banquets

Chinese appreciate foreigners’ efforts to eat with chopsticks. If using chopsticks proves impossible and no forks are available, you can use the porcelain spoon.

Banquets Eating

Formal banquets often include a dozen or more dishes. While declining to taste a dish is not considered a cardinal offense, it is polite to try each dish that is served. This means it is important to pace yourself. Leaving a little on your plate signals your Chinese host that you are full. This is also a good strategy to avoid receiving another serving of a dish you do not like. An empty plate is a cue to your Chinese host that you are still hungry, and it will likely continue to be filled until you leave something on it. According to Chinese custom it is the role of the host to serve food to their guests, so do not be surprised if the host places food on your plate. If you are feeling very polite and have good chopstick control, you may reciprocate and attempt to serve the host, but it is not necessary. If you are hosting a dinner or banquet it is polite to make a gesture of serving guests on either side and then state clearly that everyone should please help himself/herself, adding “we are all friends and should be informal.”