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Chinese Table Manners

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Communal plates on a Chinese dining tableChinese table manners, be it traditional or modern, reflect a lot of their rich culture and this trait make them special and unique. It’s an art in itself, which requires techniques and knowledge.  It starts from laying the table, seating arrangements, placing of the plates and food, serving, eating and even complementing – is part of Chinese table manner.


While it’s about different spoons on right and left of our plates and the courses, Chinese table manner is much beyond that. The following steps will help you not only pleasing your Chinese host but also enjoy the Chinese meal in authentic Chinese way.


A Sneak Preview Of Chinese Table Manners




Host will decide the seating of guests on the table; hence follow instructions from the host. Eldest member or important guest is given the important seat. And other guests according to their closeness to the host.


Commencement of dining


The guest of honor (eldest or most important guest) proposes the first toast or announces the commencement of dinner. Eating before the guest of honor is considered very rude and offending. Even the first bite is taken by guest of honor. But for drinks, though the guest of honor raises the toast first followed by other guests, everyone drinks together.




Everything, except rice and soup bowl, is to be shared. You are rice given a bowl with chopstick, you may however, politely ask for fork and spoon. Apart from bowls, every other dish on a plate is shared, from where you can take your helping and bring it to your plate or bowl, as many times as you want. But while taking food from common plate, you should not disturb other items in the plate. 


Holding of rice bowl


Holding your rice bowl lightly is considered polite. So hold your bowl with your fingers beneath it and thumb on the rim.


No standing up or trying hard to reach


Ask your fellow guest or host to pass on the main plate if you are not able to reach, do not stand up.


Chopstick in rice bowl


Do not dwindle, lick or tap your chopstick or stir food with them. Placement of chopstick in rice bowl is important and you need to be really careful as how you place them. The best way is rest the chopstick on your plate or the stand provided. Placing your chopstick upright in your rice bowl is considered very bad, as it means wishing death to people on table or to the host.


Tea pot


Chinese tea is an important part of the meal, so keep the spout of the tea pot in the direction where no one is sitting, it’s considered impolite.


No fishing


Do not over turn or debone a fish on your own, host will do it for you. South Chinese people are superstitious about it and feel it may lead to capsizing of fishing boat.


Enjoy you Chinese the Chinese way, if not elsewhere, at least in China. So that you have an authentic Chinese experience.   


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Chinese Table Manners