22 Chinese Dining Etiquette Rules Every Diner Should Know

Illustration of a Chinese dining room

Ni hao! 

Interested in Chinese dining etiquette? 

Let’s delve into the rich traditions and customs that make dining in China a unique experience. 

We’ll guide you through the essential manners and cultural insights for a memorable meal in Chinese style. 

Let’s begin!

1. Offer the Seat of Honor First 

In Chinese dining etiquette, the seat facing the entrance or with the best view is considered the seat of honor. 

As a host, offering this seat to the most esteemed guest shows respect.

2. Wait to Be Seated 

Guests should wait to be directed to their seats by the host or the most senior person present. 

This shows deference and ensures everyone is seated appropriately.

3. Use Chopsticks Properly 

Illustration of someone holding chopsticks towards the ends with respect, following Chinese dining etiquette guidelines of avoiding gestures or playing with food.

Hold chopsticks towards the ends, not in the middle or near the tips. Avoid pointing them at others, and never use them to gesture or play with food.

4. Don’t Stick Chopsticks Upright in Rice 

Chopsticks placed Upright in Rice Bowl

This action resembles incense offerings at funerals and is considered highly disrespectful. Instead, rest chopsticks on a chopstick rest or horizontally on the plate.

5. Toasting Etiquette: Lower Glass Than Elders 

When making a toast, hold your glass lower than that of the most senior person present as a sign of respect.

6. Use Both Hands to Pour Tea 

someone using both hands to pour tea from a teapot, a gesture of politeness in Chinese dining etiquette, especially when serving elders or guests of honor.

When pouring tea for others, use both hands to hold the teapot, especially when serving elders or guests of honor. This gesture signifies politeness.

Recommended article: 17 Japanese Dining Etiquette Rules Every Diner Should Know

7. Accept Food With Both Hands 

A person accepting food with both hands in Chinese dining etiquette, showing appreciation and respect for the gesture of sharing.

When receiving food or a dish from someone, use both hands to show appreciation and respect for the gesture.

8. Wait for Elders to Start Eating 

It’s customary to wait for the eldest or most senior person at the table to start eating before you begin your meal.

9. Refill Others’ Cups Before Yours 

If you notice someone’s cup is empty, offer to refill it before tending to your own. This gesture of attentiveness is valued.

10. Don’t Finish All Food on Your Plate 

Leaving a bit of food on your plate shows that you are satisfied and that the host provided abundantly.

11. Don’t Flip Fish Over 

In Chinese culture, flipping a whole fish is seen as bad luck because it symbolizes a fishing boat capsizing.

12. Don’t Tap Chopsticks on the Bowl 

Tapping chopsticks on the bowl is reminiscent of beggars in ancient times seeking food and is considered impolite.

13. Don’t Stick Chopsticks in Your Mouth 

chopsticks placed vertically in someones lips without touching it, on a dining table, which is considered bad dining etiquette

Never place chopsticks upright in your mouth, as this resembles a funeral ritual and is considered extremely rude.

14. Finish Soup to the Last Drop 

Finishing your soup to the last drop indicates that you enjoyed the meal and appreciated the effort put into cooking.

15. Pace Your Eating With the Host 

Try to match the pace of eating with the host or the most senior person present as a sign of respect and harmony.

Recommended article: 20 French Dining Etiquette Rules Every Diner Should Know

16. Don’t Slurp Noodles Loudly 

While slurping noodles is common in some cultures, in Chinese dining etiquette, it’s considered noisy and disruptive.

17. Don’t Blow Your Nose at the Table 

Excuse yourself from the table if you need to blow your nose or engage in any other personal hygiene activities.

18. Don’t Criticize the Food

Avoid making negative comments about the food, as it can be seen as disrespectful to the host’s efforts and hospitality.

19. Use Serving Utensils 

When serving communal dishes, use the provided serving utensils instead of your own chopsticks to maintain hygiene and show respect for others.

20. Don’t Argue Over the Bill 

When the bill arrives, it’s polite to offer to pay, but don’t insist on it or argue over it, especially in front of others.

21. Offer Tea as a Sign of Gratitude 

Pouring tea for others, especially the host or elders, is a gesture of gratitude and respect in Chinese culture.

22. Compliment the Food and Host’s Cooking 

Express appreciation for the meal and the effort put into preparing it. Compliments are valued and show your respect for the host and the culinary traditions.

Wrap Up

Understanding and practicing Chinese dining etiquette not only shows respect for cultural traditions but also fosters meaningful connections during meals. 

By following these guidelines, guests can enjoy a harmonious dining experience and show appreciation for the host’s hospitality and culinary efforts.

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