What comes to your mind when you think about Chinese Restaurants? The strange language that you've never heard that rings in your ears as the waitress shouts out the orders to the cook? The porcelain white crockery? Or the dishes are overwhelming big?
Well... maybe you haven't noticed (or you are more observant than the rest), Chinese dishes are meant for sharing. In Chinese culture, the concept of sitting at a round table and enjoying a meal together with family or friends is the essence of Chinese dining, that is, communal dining. Dishes are not separated into individual portions. Usually the plates and bowls are too small so you can't stack a heap of food right for yourself. It is not polite to be do so as you'll be deemed a glutton. Therefore, if you wish to have a portion of that delicious Kung-Po style fried Frog Legs. Arm yourself with your chopsticks as a tool, pick as much as possible (without dropping it all over the table) and deposit them safely on your plate. It is also not polite to be picking the dish for the extra big piece of roast pork. It seems like you are scavenging for food and really unsightly. So you are given one chance to get your food. Finish that portion before you resume for seconds or thirds.
Did you know that Soups can go with your meal unlike in Western dining where the Soup always come first? Unless the soup is a slightly more expensive variety like the notorious Sharks' Fins. Expensive soups are meant to be served first after the cold starter so they don't get mulled by the flavours of other dishes that follow. Eight courses in a single meal is pretty common in a banquet. Rice or Noodle dishes are always last on the list.
Have you learnt something about dining in a Chinese restaurant today?