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Travel Guide > Asia > Taiwan > Restaurants & Eating

Eating Etiquette In Taiwan

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As with Chinese cuisine elsewhere, food in Taiwan is generally eaten with chopsticks and served on large plates placed at the center of the table. Unlike in the West, however, a serving spoon might not accompany the dishes, and instead guests will use their own chopsticks to transfer food to their plates. Some people consider this unhygienic, and in more up-market eateries utensils are proved for this. If your acquaintances aren't keen to use the communal chopsticks, gently encourage them by mentioning you've caught a cold.

The usual Chinese taboos when eating with chopsticks apply in Taiwan. Don't stick your chopsticks vertically in a bowl of rice or noodles, as this is reminiscent of incense sticks at a temple, and has connotations of wishing death upon those around you. When putting down chopsticks, either place them on the provided porcelain chopstick rest (at fancier restaurants) or rest the chopsticks across the top of your bowl. Also, do not use your chopsticks to spear your food or move bowls and plates.

Because the Chinese believe the number four to be unlucky (in Mandarin it's pronounced 四 si, very similar to the word for death, 死 si), if a party of four arrives at a restaurant, the staff will confirm their numbers by saying "three plus one" rather than "four."

Type: Tip
Location: Taiwan

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