If you own an Asian restaurant, it’s inexcusable to make these mistakes. Thai is a completely different world than Chinese or Japanese, and Korean food is as similar to them as Mexican or Cuban food is Canadian cuisine. There may be some abject similarities, but not all across the board can be treated the same.
Foodbeast has collected a litany of sins occurring in Asian restaurants on a daily basis. Have you seen these in your restaurant, or have you even committed them on your own?
- Never stick chopsticks straight up in a bowl of food. It can symbolize everything from stabbing, death, or even piercing one’s soul.
- No need to bow to all people, nor always offer chopsticks: these vary from culture to culture, with bowing being more prominent with Japanese culture, and Filipino food not requiring chopsticks.
- Chopsticks are only used for noodle dishes when it comes to Thai food.
- Chopsticks are never to be tapped on the bowl when it comes to Chinese food, as that’s a sign of how people in need ask for food.
- Fried rice has already been seasoned, so don’t pour soy sauce on it.
- Pho has already been seasoned, so don’t pour Sriracha and hoisin sauce in it.
- Never move food from a shared dished directly to your mouth (place it down on a plate first), nor grab it with the tips of your chopsticks you eat from (use the reverse end).
- Don’t flip fish over, as it imitates the flipping-over of a boat.
- Don’t slip pho, and eat it as soon as it hits the table; letting it go cold is an insult.
- With Korean food, don’t hold and eat food out of a bowl in your hand.
- Never blow your nose during a Korean meal.
- Don’t put wasabi on nigiri, as there’s already some between the rice and fish. Likewise, make sure to eat nigiri in one bite, and only use your hands. Nigiri isn’t meant for chopsticks.
Have you committed these scenes while eating these types of food or, if you run a restaurant that sells this cuisine, have you found customers not knowing the accuracies of the cuisine?
At that point, you’re likely faced with a conundrum. Do you allow your customers to eat while committing sins that may outright be offensive to other clientele or your staff (and at least, might be unhygienic or disrupt the flavor of your food).
It’s a cultural and sociological problem. Many people would relish the opportunity to learn how to do things the “right” and “authentic” way, and yet others will be offended that you’re “correcting” them or telling them they’re “wrong.”
A light hand is the best approach, without chastising but encouragement. One way to approach the topic is to see if they’d like to learn; offering a “can I show you a trick?” or “you’re close, but how to really eat nigiri…” might be less insulting and more educational.