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Dining Etiquette In Vietnam

June 4th, 2010 by

Vietnam has its own set of traditions and customs that must be respected by all its visitors. The locals would greatly appreciate it if we behave properly according to their own culture like with how we conduct ourselves while in Vietnam, how we dress, how we speak, and of course, with how we dine.

Photo by: shoppingfan

Read on to find out more about dining etiquette in Vietnam:

CHOPSTICKS – One must never leave chopsticks positioned vertically out of any food bowl whether it is plain steamed rice or noodles. This must also be remembered when visiting China. Vertical chopsticks is frowned upon because they look like incense sticks that are positioned vertically during a wake or a funeral. It is better to simply put both chopsticks on top of the bowl and position both sticks side by side.

It is also best to keep in mind that chopsticks must never be used to tap on the side of any bowl during a meal. Doing so is believed to bring about bad luck for the person and poverty. Tapping the bowl with chopsticks also means that one is summoning the dead.

Avoid holding the chopsticks halfway down. This is considered an omen that signifies a death in the family.

Photo by: shoppingfan

Make sure that the chopsticks will never touch your tongue or your lips during a meal. This is because you would have to use your own chopsticks to get food from the main dish that is served for everyone to partake in. One must also be careful not to cross ones chopsticks with those of another person who is also sharing the meal.

MEAL INVITATIONS BY LOCALS – When invited by some locals for a meal, it is advisable to bring gifts. Gifts can come in the form of flowers, pastries, or fruits and must be wrapped in very colorful packaging. Avoid giving things that are black, hankies and flowers that are color yellow.

The first thing to remember is that one must wait to be shown where to sit in the dining table. There are positions in the dining table that are allocated to different people based on significance to the family, stature, and age. The oldest person in the group or in the family is the one who is seated first. Guests must wait, likewise, for the oldest person to eat first because this is a sign of respect.

Vietnamese style of dining is similar to other Asian countries. Different dishes are placed in the center of the table and each person must help himself or herself to a serving. This is why it is important to be careful with the use of chopsticks as mentioned earlier.

During the meal, make sure to pass dishes to another person using both hands. When getting a serving of food, place the portion in a bowl or on a plate.   If eating from a bowl, lift the bowl close to your face and not let it sit on top of the dining table as this will be considered an act of laziness.

There will be times when the host of the dinner will serve you food either on your bowl or on your plate. Make sure to finish everything to make your host feel that you are satisfied with the meal.   If you’ve had enough, you politely decline more food by covering your bowl.  If you like a particular dish then you can ask for a second serving. This would simply mean that you like the food so much. Never waste food and make sure to finish everything in your bowl or on your plate. You will be able to convey that you are full and one eating by placing both chopsticks on top of your rice bowl.

Photo by: shoppingfan

RESTAURANT ETIQUETTE – Do not be surprised if in a group that is dining out, the men are the ones who are served first. Women should understand that this is part of the Vietnamese culture. It is also common for diners to position both arms on the table unlike in Western countries. This is because meals are eaten using chopsticks and the bowl must be held in one hand while the other hand holds the chopsticks.

Once you are done eating, you would have to approach the person tending the cash register to ask for your bill so that you can pay for your meal. The Vietnamese feel that it is rude to bring the check to the guest’s table.

Keep these in mind and you will surely have a pleasant and satisfying experience dining in Vietnam. Enjoy!

One Response to “Dining Etiquette In Vietnam”

  1. Ice Says:

    This is another informative and great post Kitci. Keep them coming! I love reading all of them!!!

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