Unless you grew up in a household that was particularly hellbent on respecting tradition (we live in Australia, so you probably didn’t), then there is a good chance you aren’t well acquainted with chopsticks. While they seem uncomplicated, the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ associated with these unassuming sticks are far more complex than you could imagine. So we’ve compiled this little list to give you a helping hand – a useful resource for my younger self whose journey of ‘self discovery’ utilised chopsticks in a rather unconventional way. Yeah, would not recommend doing that.
Your chopsticks are not drumsticks
If you have repressed musical ambitions that are all of a sudden resurfacing, there are better places to act them out than at the table (like the bathroom, those acoustics are killer). The Chinese believe that everything good comes in pairs, so while they can strike up a sick beat, separating them disturbs the ‘peace’.
Never stick your chopsticks into your food
This is a sight that resembles the incense that family members burn when mourning a dead relative. Similarly, crossing your chopsticks is a symbol for death. So if you’re looking to take a breather from those dumplings, set them beside or across the top of your bowl.
Never point chopsticks at someone
Particularly people who are older or of higher status than you – it’s considered terribly impolite. Additionally, having your fingers stick out of formation while you use chopsticks is another rude display. Come on, did you think this Asian tradition was anything but militaristically rigorous?
No licking, sucking or nibbling allowed
Unfortunately, no amount of that will actually make your “got wood?!” performance more convincing – unless you’re trying to behave like Jasmine my pet hamster. She drowned after climbing into my washing machine. Playing with your food, or the remnants of them, is seen as unsophisticated; almost like you don’t get to eat enough. But if that’s actually the case, then carry on.
So, if you’re looking for places to try out these inside tips go here:
Menya Noodle Bar - Chinatown
This is my favourite place to wolf down a hearty bowl of Japanese ramen. Customers get to choose from a hugely satisfying menu, that also includes ramen and rice bowls. The ramen noodles come in four different soup bases that you can choose from as well. My go-to is always the Menya ramen with a chicken-miso broth base. Delish city.
Old Town Hong Kong Cuisine - Chinatown
This atmospheric Hongkongese restaurant is low on the light but big on the yummy feels. Try their peking duck, their green beans with minced pork, or even their fried beef with orange peel.
Din Tai Fung - Various Locations
Some say that it’s over priced, and over rated – I know, because I used to say that too. And then I had their soup dumplings. Such perfection I have not known. Their dumpling skins are an art form – thin but elastic enough to hold that soup while steaming. You know that scalding your mouth for them is always worth it.