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Things to keep in mind when dining at a local restaurant


While some travellers prefer a comfortable English speaking restaurant frequented by tourists, others prefer an exciting and dynamic adventure to one of Hong Kong's local cha chaan teng or cha lou. However, it may be quite tricky considering many do not speak the language or fully understand the etiquette. Here, Above and Beyond's Hong Kong born-and-raised French-Chinese assistant restaurant manager, Xavier Schaeffer, presents you some of the things to keep in mind when dining at a local restaurant. 

It’s normal to share the table

搭檯 (sharing a table with other customers/parties) is very common in Hong Kong,

so don’t be alarmed when you see someone you do not know joining you at your table!

This is Hong Kong's way to adapt to its urban crowded living conditions and ensure efficiency.


Attitude isn’t everything

Don’t take it personally when waiters seem indifferent or rude. At times, the ruder the server, the better the food!


Photo credits: TIME


Rinse your utensils

Most wouldn’t think to rinse plates or utensils when dining at a restaurant,

but it is very normal to have a quick rinse with hot water.


Asking for more tea

Open the lid of the teapot and place it upside down on the table to request for more tea.

Without saying a word, the waiter will immediately refill your teapot after noticing the opened tea lid.   



Always show gratitude

Tap two fingers gently against the table to thank your waiter for pouring tea.

The legend starts with Emperor Qian Long, who used to travel in disguise to experience life among his people.

He poured tea for his servant and for his servant to show gratitude without exposing the Emperor's identity,

he bent his two fingers and touch the knuckles to the table, as if he was getting down on his knees to kowtow.

Ever since then, it has been an important Chinese tradition.

However, there is a more practical side to doing this, in Chinese cuisine,

tea is being poured all meal long, so to save one’s breath, it is easier to just tap two fingers against the table.


Photo credits: Golden Moon Tea 


Mind your chopsticks!

We understand that mastering the skill of holding chopsticks can be tricky,

however, it is important to be aware of the etiquette surrounding them.

Never stick your chopsticks upright into your food, and especially never into your rice bowl.

It is not only rude but also culturally offensive as it resembles incense burning at funerals that is supposed to be displayed on the altar.

If you wish to put down your chopsticks, just simply rest them on your chopstick holder or place them on top of your bowl.


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