Real Chinese food
By Xiaoyu Yan, Public Relations Specialist at Attract China’s Boston Office
Americans love to eat Chinese food, whether in a fancy Chinese restaurant with extravagant décor or at those often crowded, noisy little local spots. That being said Chinese food found in the U.S. is very different from the authentic cuisine consumed daily by people in China. How different? Read below to find out:
The Dining experience
The experience of dining in China is far different than eating at restaurants in America. Manners and menus are almost entirely opposite.
Menus in China are usually illustrated hardback books, in which almost every single dish has a picture. That means a menu typically has around 20 pages, lined with beautiful photos. Chinese people order food according to the picture, not necessarily the written description in menus.
Furthermore, each table is typically only given one menu, and when the menu is placed before them, the waiter stands next to the table ready to write down the order. You do not sit at the table and talk for several minutes before ordering; you order when you sit almost immediately
In China, people are used to dining in noisy environments, which is considered welcoming and joyful. So, if you need to call a waiter in China, call loudly. Very loudly. Shout “Waiter” and wave your hand. Since there is no tipping in China, every person is your table’s waiter, and it’s appropriate to stop anyone in the restaurant and ask them for something. This is not rude, it is expected!
And cold water? It doesn’t exist at the dinner table in China. Hot water is almost always served, even in the middle of summer and even while eating the spiciest food imaginable. And if you order a beer or a bottle of water, better ask for it cold, as their inclination is to serve it room temperature.
Of course, alcohol is a totally different culture in China. Without going into detail, you simply won’t find a cocktail menu or really any mixed drinks at a Chinese restaurant. You’ll be lucky to find wine that isn’t made from rice. Alternatively, many Chinese drink “Baijiu, ” a common Chinese liquor that is also known as “the whisky of China.” Many Westerners can’t stand the taste.