Restuarant Etiquette

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Restuarant Etiquette

Post  Jules on Sun Mar 07, 2010 12:30 pm

Originally posted by Daphne:

In addition to Seating Arrangements you should also know a few more things about eating in Korea (or with Koreans in general, especially-I repeat: especially-OLDER Koreans).

(i) The pace is set by the oldest MAN at the table (not woman as us well-mannered Westerners are used to). You may only begin eating after the oldest man has started and you should do you best to finish when he does as well.

(ii) Koreans spoon their soup from the outside in (not vice versa as Emily Post advises). This is so as not to 'push' something (an aura?) onto your guests.

(iii) Koreans often eat with their mouth open and may belch at the table (espcially the Alpha males, they can pretty much do as they please). If this bothers you then you should probably keep quiet until you find some way to get the point to him that it makes you uncomfortable (this is harder if you are in Korea, as it's his turf).

(iv) You should NEVER NEVER NEVER offer anything to anyone with your left hand: only your right. (Although you could use your left if you are middle-aged or better and are giving it to your child or a child you know VERY well.) The more senior/important the recipient the more respectfully you should give it. This is shown by the placement of your left hand on your right arm: on your elbow is moderate respect, on your wrist is higher respect, on your hand is higher still and using both hands (with a bow) is highest. Always err on the more formal side if in doubt. Friends do not have to use two hands, but let the Korean tell you when this is so.

(v) If someone's (especially an older male's) glass is empty be sure to offer to refill it (keep in mind hand placement). Don't fill it on the table, wait until they hold it and bring it up to the bottle. Don't hold the bottle above the glass, but touch it to the rim. (This way if the receiver is drunk/full they can gently raise the glass and cut off the pour without hurt feelings.)

More to know:

(vi) Koreans don't eat in courses, everything comes (more or less) whenever it is ready to be served and you should eat from every dish from time to time.

(vii) Your rice and soup are important. Usually Koreans finish them when they are full/finished eating. If you devour yours they will ask if you want more. If you don't get more they will be very confused; just take a bit more and eat some of it and try to finish at the end of the meal.

(viii) There are always many side-dishes in a Korean meal. If you like one then have as much as you like, they will refill it.

(ix) When giving food/serving to someone else never give just one portion/ladel-full. Give 2 or more. When someone says, "Just a little," then give them a lot. When they say, "Enough," give them one more helping.

(x) At a cooking table (e.g., 갈비/kalbi or 삼겹살./sam-gyup-sal) the most junior person should do the cooking (preferably the lowest-ranking woman, male-dominated society that Korea is).

(xi) At the end of a meal where you have rice in a large bowl (e.g., 비빔밥/bi-bim-bap) it's polite to put some water in the bowl after the meal is done. This shows respect to the host/cook by making it easier to clean and also kind of shows that you could not finish all of it (this is good in Korea because it indicates that they served you too much-which translates to 'enough' food).

Daphne TheSuperior Still more to know:

(vi) Never blow your nose at the table. Even with a hanky this is bad manners.

(vii) Do not leave your soup spoon in your bowl or your chopstick in food (you know how to use these, right?). It's bad luck. This is well-known in Japan but not as rigidly followed in Korea, but if you do it near a conservative eater you're in trouble.

(viii) Never finish the last of a dish (as if you could, as most Korean hosts and restaurants just bring you more and more food). If there are 2-3 pieces left it's a good idea to choose the best one and give it to the oldest man at the table. Same goes for fruit if it's served at the end. Either give the oldest man the best piece or offer the plate to him before taking your own.

(ix) At the end of the meal tell your host, server and cook (if you can): 잘 먹었습니다/jal-meo-geo-seum-ni-da
(that was a delicious meal/I ate well). If you can't remember the Korean then the English will do, but even if you are the most senior person there you should say it. (If you're senior you can use: 잘 먹어요 / jal-meo-geo-yo, a less formal form; but only if you know the people there well.)

(x) Finally, the man/oldest person at the table always pays the bill .

Got all that? If you do you're on track to eat well in Korea (and be invited back for more).

Just learned another one over dinner tonight. No one seems to know why, but it's impolite to set your spoon on your bowl when you're not using it. Maybe I should explain: I always understood it polite in Western culture to set my spoon's bowl upside-down on the lip of my bowl (with the point of the stem on the table--making about a 30 degree angle). But, it seems that is not cool in Korea.

I also noticed that Koreans generally leave their utensils (spoon and chopsticks) on the table between uses. This is the opposite of Emily Post's etiquette rules, but you ain't in Kansas any longer.

Just another thing to remember.

Note: in Japan sticking your chopsticks in a bowl (of rice) and leaving them there for any period of time is extreme bad luck--this is how they present and leave offerings to the dead
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