Published: June 9th 2012June 8th 2012
Chinese Business Dinners aren't so bad if you follow Fernanda's tips!
Yes this is a photo I found on google, we haven't been to any dinners that look like this. Too bad...
This week's top 10 comes from guest writer Fernanda! Should you find yourself an employee of a Chinese organization, these tips will be really useful.
What I have learnt about chinese dinning etiquette:
A lot of business dinners are in private rooms in fancy restaurants, there is a lot that goes on.
1) There are tables and chairs on the sides to sit at while waiting for the dinner to start, but it seems that sitting at them follows some rules that I haven't figured out. Play safe and immitate other people, it´s all about who is more important than who.
2) When it is time to sit down at the big round dinner table, wait for the important people to sit and then find a place.
3) The guest of honor sits at the chair that faces the door, and the most important people sit around him. This rule is strictly followed and if someone more important than that person comes in during dinner to join the group, they move around the table accordingly.
4) They drink A LOT at these dinners, mostly the men, but you don't have too. I read it is better not to drink than to stop while they are still drinking (don't know if it's true, but people at the dinners I've been to were either drinking or not). If you don't want to drink, put your shot glass upside down inside of the little jar and the waitress will take it away for you (they fill up little jars from which they refill their shot glasses)
5) The art of toasting:-Gan bei means bottoms up – but, specially if you are having an alcoholic drink, you don't have to chug it every time they say gan bei.-There is a lot of toasting at the dinners, apparently they do better buisiness after getting drunk together – and it seems like they only drink after toasting. -When somebody gets up to toast with you, you have to get up. It shows respect. -If the person you are toasting with is more important than you, when you click glasses, the mouth of your glass should touch the middle of their glass – your glass has to be lower than theirs to show respect (side note: a lot of the time they don't actually touch glasses, but the rule still applies). -When you have to toast someone, and, trust me, they will tell you too (out loud, in front of everybody, and you will have to get up from your place and walk around the table to toast the person), say “Jing nim” (the “i” sounds kind of like the “ee” in teen). -When you are toasting, it is respectuful to hold your glass with both hands. This is not necessary, but respectful. -They kind of show the glass to whoever they are toasting with after taking the shot or taking a sip (if they are drinking the rice alcohol they might even turn their shot glass sideways to show they drank it)
6) There is always toooons of food. Seriously, there is more than one dish per person and they are all communal dishes set on the round thing that turns at the center of the table and you just grab some food with your chopsticks. Sometimes there are spoons too, and if there aren't, it is perfectly okay to use your soup spoon to get something from the plates – you always have a plate with chopsticks and a little bowl with a spoon.
7) I read online, and have been doing it even though I wans't told to, that one should not take the last piece of food from the plate, cause if the plates are empty that means the host didn't provide enough. Left overs are a sign of abundance and prosperity.
8) The food doesn't come out all at once, and for some reason rice and noodles (and there's usually both) come in after you have already stuffed yourself with delicicous food. However, don't wait up for a delicous dessert, it's always just fruit.
[Dafne comment - oh Fernanda and her dislike of fruits and vegetables...]
9) They only drink hot stuff with their meals, even if it is a hot day. Get ready to drink a lot of tea and warm juices or warm soymilk.
[Dafne comment - haha we have cold sprite and orange juice at our dinners!]
10) When all 12 people at your dinner table are speaking chinese and some of them are looking at you, clearly talking about you and even pointing at you, and sometimes also laughing, just smile back and be graceful. Don't panic, you will survive…I have hahahhaha