Morgan Rote (Ru Meng)
Major: Global and International Studies
Chinese Language and Culture, Beijing, China
While staying in Beijing, our group ate at many different restaurants around the city. Overall experience was great, and the food tasted amazing. In China, you sit in a circle with your group, and there is a center glass piece that is used to rotate and pass the food around. This creates a welcoming social atmosphere and encourages conversation among friends. Compared to America, where we order separate meals, are not accustomed to sharing food, and is a more singular experience. With China’s dining style, you order dishes and then share them with the entire group.
The menu has a diverse set of options, ranging from soups and vegetables, to squid and duck. Every entrée we had had a distinguished taste and as long as you could use chopsticks properly, left you wanting seconds and thirds. What we found very interesting was the fact that when we ordered water, it was served hot, hot as in boiling in a tea pot hot. We were told it was better for your body and health, and we did eventually get used to it and preferred hot water over ice cold.
The waiters we had were cordial, but seemed to keep to themselves until we were ready and called them over. In America your waiter seems to hover over you, frequently checking on your party to see when you’re ready, but in China, it was a much more relaxed setting. And while tipping is nearly mandatory in America, it is seen as rude to tip in China. Since tipping is not required or expected, we did not tip while we were there. You are also charged for things you would not normally think of. If you would like to take your leftovers home with you, it would cost you one yuan for the container or bag. And the wet napkin you are given at the start of your meal also costs one yuan. And at the end of your meal, you walk up to the front desk to pay for your dishes, instead of receiving the bill at your table.
It was an interesting experience, comparing China’s dining style to America’s. My favorite part of the experience was the fact that the restaurant style is a more social experience, sitting in a circle with our group was a nice way to talk and relax while eating and passing the dishes among everyone.