international dining etiquette
Dining etiquette for toasts. You will know that the meal has officially begun when the host invites you to sip your beverage. A common ritual will be for your host to raise his or her own glass and say the equivalent of "please" or ch'ing. In turn, you should raise your glass with both hands (your right hand under the bottom of the glass and your left hand supporting the glass). As you partake in the toast, you should join those around you by saying, "to success" in Chinese (yam seng). At that point, you should sip the beverage by holding it with only your right hand.
After the first sip is taken, your Chinese host will give you the signal to eat by lifting his or her chopsticks horizontally and saying, ch'ing again. If your host has not already done so, he or she will then serve you. It will be up to you to officially begin the meal by taking the first bite.
Dining etiquette for seating. Most likely, you will sit at a round table with an even number of guests if your host is a Singaporean Chinese (even numbers signify good luck). While Western etiquette dictates that the host sits to the immediate left of the guest, the opposite is true in Singapore. Your host will sit to the immediate right of the most senior guest.
If your host is of Malay descent, he will offer you either the seat to his right or the head of the table.
Dining etiquette for chopsticks. Use chopsticks if you are in a Chinese restaurant. Follow rules for using chopsticks in the Chinese dining etiquette section.
Dining etiquette for eating fish. As in Hong Kong, if you are served fish, do not turn the plate, but eat it in the position in which it was presented to you.
Dining for eating with Malays and Indians. When eating with Malays and Indians you will probably use a spoon and a fork, and you may sometimes also use your right hand. The spoon is the utensil that should be put in your mouth, while the fork is for scooping the food onto your spoon.
Indian utensil etiquette dictates that the serving spoon should not touch the plate when either you or another person is putting food on a plate.
Dining etiquette for after the meal. There is no lingering at the end of a meal. Rather, it is time to leave after the last course has been finished, or after tea has been served.
Dining etiquette for tipping. As in many other countries, a 10-to 15-percent surcharge will be built into a restaurant bill.
- Mike Lininger, Editor, Etiquette Scholar
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