During our seven day trip to China, we vowed to ourself that we must experience local food for all three meals in a day.
We are glad we did it. We learnt a lot about the local food, how the local “Chinese Fried Rice” really tasted, how the local “Schezwan Chicken” really tasted, the style of dining, and the structural uniqueness in some Chinese restaurants.
First things first – most of the restaurants emanate a strong smell of food, one can smell the stark difference in air inside and outside the quality a restaurant.
For some of our meals, we deliberately went to some handful of restaurants before choosing one, just to look at various menu designs, representations, pricing, interiors of the restaurant, among others.
In all the restaurants we dined, the only utensils provided to eat was a small plate (size of a coffee cup saucer), a soup cup and a water cup. You are supposed to eat all food items you order using these three utensils. Some of the restaurants gave us a bigger plate once we started main course, while some didn’t offer us a plate.
All restaurants we dined (from a decent one to a classy one) had only chopsticks to pick food to eat. We had to ask for a spoon and fork wherever we went. Western dining culture has still not influenced China.
We went with different group of around 8-10 people everyday for dining. Strangely, we noticed that either one or two people pickup the menu and order food for everyone at the table.
Most of the menus we looked at had 80% options for non-vegetarians. At the same time, almost all vegetarian food we ordered were tasty. Below is a picture of a Tofu based curry, but we drank it like a soup.
When it comes to the layout of fine dining restaurants, we could majorly notice large tables that could seat 6 people and above, and most of the tables were round in shape.
All large dining tables had a revolving centre plate where steward places all dishes. Everyone takes turns serving food from the revolving centre plate and places the food bowl back to the revolving plate for others across the table to consume. We could observe this etiquette in every lunch and dinner meal we had.
Below two photos were taken from two different restaurants. But, the tables look identical.
Below photo is from yet another restaurant. But, the table parameters didn’t change (round shape and centre revolving plate).
Part two of this article can be read – HERE.