[My Two Cents] Stuff non-Asian People Say or Do at Chinese Restaurant

Growing up in a country where your skin colour is different from the majority of the people living here….you tend to stand out amongst the crowd.

Well in fact (you can even tell from my last name), I am one of them. Being an Asian raised in South Africa, we are merely under 2% of the country’s population. Even though I have lived here for 20 years and speak in a perfect South African accent, there is no way to hide my beautiful yellow skin colour and appearance. But somehow you are so rare for them, you have lots of (same) questions being asked and comments that probably get your eyes rolling because it is like the nth times you’ve heard them.

Ever since I have read a post on Buzzfeed (21 Questions Asian People Are Sick Of Answering), I can actually relate myself to most of the points mentioned. It is all about how we, as a certain group, are confined to certain behaviour and how others does not have access to gain such insight. We are not all like this!

But what I have found the most puzzling and speechless are the things non-Asian people do at a Chinese/Japanese/Korean restaurant, particularly the Chinese restaurant where I actually had hands-on experience when I was still studying and doing part-time job. These may not entirely apply to all non-Asian customers but I have seen quite of few happening around me. Hopefully after reading  this, everybody will stop drumming the chopsticks on the next visit to a Chinese restaurant.

Stuff non-Asian People Say or Do at Chinese Restaurant

1. Add soy sauce to basically everything…

I’ve it seen all. Soy sauce being added into a bowl of steamed rice, and even soup. Now C’mon really? I only add the condiment when cooking and for dipping. I can’t imagine how chicken and sweet corn soup and soy sauce taste like. Ew!


2. Each person order their own dish…

On one table, you will spot each dish sit perfectly in front of each person, and all the dishes probably look identical. Well to go the Chinese dining way, it is all about sharing. And you get to taste other dishes as well.


3. Ask for tomato sauce…

Errr…come again? It is like we go to a Steakhouse and ask for soy sauce. And then again what are you going to use the tomato sauce for? Fried noodle? Ew!


4. Expect bread for their soup…

Ok I have to say this only happened to me once. I was called back 5 minutes later after I brought out the soup to the table, asking if they will have bread to dip into their soup. Bread to dip into wonton soup…wonder how would that taste like.


5. When the dishes are out, people constantly ask what dish is what…

Sometimes I wonder whether people actually close their eyes, point their fingers at an item on the menu, and order whatever their intuition tells them to. So by the time the food comes out, they have no idea what they’ve just ordered.


6. Ask whether the restaurant has chips as a side dish…

Does prawn cracker count? It is like asking if a burger place sells fried rice.


7. Ask if the restaurant has any dish for those people (especially children) who don’t eat Chinese/Japanese/Korean food…

Then why you here at the first place? *facepalm*


8. Ask every single Asian looking waiter/waitress/staff if s/he is related to the restaurant owner…

I don’t know. Maybe we all look the same. You  know, dark hair and dark eyes.


9. Take the chopsticks home. Whether they’re the disposable or non-disposable ones…

Do you take forks and knives home from other restaurants? Do you? Do you? Then why here? *facepalm again”


10. And shove the sticks into their (generally the ladies) hair buns.

One word: Eww!


11. Drum their chopsticks or playing with it.

My worst pet peeve at a restaurant is when people start to drum their chopsticks. I understand how people get excited to use chopsticks but they are like knives and forks to us. I would never play with my eating utensils at other restaurants. They are for eating not playing. So show come respect please.


12. Add sugar and milk to their green tea…

I am completely clueless at this one. Maybe it tastes better that way?


13. Joke whether we sell dog/cat/xyz meat…

I had coughed out a dry “haha” when I heard this the first time. There afterward I just give them the awkward silence. Yes dear in case you don’t notice it is kind of racist to us. Or “waisis”.


This post may sound very bias to the other non-Asian people who never done any of these things I’ve mentioned. But believe or not, this had happened to me and I am just airing my view out. So hopefully people can learn and respect each other’s culture.

In case you would like to find out more you can check out this webpage that gives you some points of Chinese table manners.

So Bon appetit, smaaklike ete, 慢慢吃~


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