Food Pho Pas: 23 Simple Things You’re Doing Wrong While Eating Asian Food


Asian nations have rich histories of eating etiquette that most Americans are oblivious to, as we’re all too busy reading World Books about how General Tso made that delicious chicken he totally invented.

To help guide you through the confusing world of Eastern cuisines, we asked all sorts of experts to share the most commonly seen Asian restaurant faux pas. And for those so clueless they also don’t know how to act in steakhouses or pizza places, we’ve got more unforgivable food no-nos right here.



Sticking your chopsticks straight up in a bowl of noodles or rice is taboo in most every country in Asia — it symbolizes either death/stabbing in China, and piercing one’s soul in Japan (via Nguyen Tran, Starry Kitchen).

Not all Asians are Japanese — you don’t need to bow. (via Maharlika)


Don’t ask for chopsticks — not all Asians eat with them. (via Maharlika)


Chopsticks are for noodle dishes only. Eating a Thai curry with chopsticks is just too logistically complicated. (via Austin Bush)



Never tap your bowl with chopsticks — it’s how the homeless ask for food.

When eating dim sum, if someone pours you tea, always tap three fingers on the table as a sign of gratitude.

Don’t pour soy sauce on fried rice, because it’s already been seasoned.

It’s considered rude to take food from a shared dish and put it immediately in your mouth.

When eating a whole fish, don’t flip it over, as that symbolizes the capsizing of a boat. (via Jimmy Lee, Mikado)

When eating family-style and without a serving utensil, pick up food with the opposite end of your chopsticks; otherwise, you’re essentially double-dipping. (via Nguyen Tran, Starry Kitchen)



Don’t slurp pho.

When eating pho, use the chopsticks to move your noodles into the soup spoon, then eat out of the spoon. (via Shion Aikawa, Ramen Tatsu-Ya)

The minute food hits the table, you should start eating, rather than waiting for everyone’s food to arrive. It’s considered rude to let it get cold. (via Nguyen Tran, Starry Kitchen)

Show respect to the person who spent hours brewing the broth and don’t squirt Sriracha or hoisin sauce into pho. It’s like putting ketchup in chicken noodle soup. (via Andrea Nguyen, Viet World Kitchen)


Don’t lift your bowl off the table and eat with the bowl in your hand.

Don’t ever blow your nose during a meal, even if it’s running like crazy.

Don’t ever receive a dish or glass with one hand; always use two or put your left hand under the wrist of the right. (via Beyond Kimchee)



Never eat nigiri in more than one bite. (via Deana Saukam, Qui)

Never pour your own sake.

Don’t put wasabi on nigiri, as there is already some between the fish and rice.

Don’t dip nigiri into soy sauce rice-side-down because it will compromise the structural integrity. (via Jimmy Lee, Mikado)

Don’t use chopsticks to eat nigiri — use your hands. (via Kome)

Ramen has been specifically crafted by the chef as a complete item — don’t customize it. (via Shion Aikawa, Ramen Tatsu-Ya)

Kudos Thrillist

By Thrillist

Thrillist is a trusted recommendation voice in food, drink and travel for men across the world.

31 replies on “Food Pho Pas: 23 Simple Things You’re Doing Wrong While Eating Asian Food”

I would disagree with some of the Vietnamese ones.

Slurping is rude – yes.

The spoon thing is all preference.

Depending on who you’re sitting with, you do not eat right away. I always wait for my elder to touch the food first or to insist that I start eating. That’s proper etiquette in Vietnamese culture. I’d never dive in first if my grandma were sitting at the table – that’s more rude than letting your food get cold, trust me.

The Sriracha and hoisin sauce is also preference – they’re complimentary flavors just like adding lime or mint leaves. Some like a touch of each, which is the best way to do it I think. Not all pho broths are created equally.

its the concept of it, especially Asian food that it is prepared as the chef conceived it with respect to the ingredients and flavor. if you like salt, add some soy but respect the chef enough to taste before pouring away

I can’t speak for anyone else but if I’m pouring siriacha or hoisin sauce into my pho it is because those “hours” spent were hours wasted because it is bland as fuck, that goes for the fried rice rule also, now I don’t go pouring it into there as soon as it arrives, I want to taste their food as it was cooked but if it’s lacking in flavor I will add what I feel is needed

there’s a difference when being a guest at someones house and paying people for their service, granted slurping is pretty rude in public but some of these rules are dumb

The reason most Americans are oblivious to Asian food etiquette is because… *ding ding ding*… we’re Americans. I eat the way I want to eat and I don’t give two shits who has a problem with it.

As for slurping, I hear more slurping going on in Asian restaurants than I do in American restaurants. No offense to Asians, but I’ve seen many of them literally eat with their face. A Cantonese/Thai place I frequently visit, which is populated with many Chinese as well as other Asian customers, is one of the noisiest damned places I’ve ever been in. And I’m not talking about chatter and plates clinking and music…. I’m talking about the slurping and the lapping and the slapping that’s going on with their mouths as they’re eating their food. It’s f***ing disgusting to listen to when you’re trying to enjoy your meal.

I know that, silly, I was just being goofy. I happen to be German. Was I born in Germany? No. I was born in America 😉

In some asian countries, it’s polite to slurp while eating your food. so in their eyes, your quiet eating might represent you not appreciating/enjoying your meal, instead of representing “good manners”. That’s why it’s important to know different cultures and their etiquette.

Food Nazi’s rear their ugly head again. Slurping and flipping fish, I’ll let you have, but as far as adding seasoning or condiments to food to fit my taste, you Nazi’s can bite me.

Bah. Don’t care, flipped my fish all the time. They should provide the actual logical reason behind it. Its not about capsizing boat but to prevent splattering the sauce.

LOL okay 1: this is just something according to each culture. Doesn’t mean you NEED to follow it.

and 2: whoever wrote this. “Pho” is pronounce FUH… not FOE. lol

Ramen Tetsu-Ya says don’t customize ramen and, yet, at their restaurant (which I LOVE and frequent) they highlight the customization options on their menu. I’m confused and saddened. Sometimes I like an extra egg in my ramen. It’s YOUR FAULT for making them so tasty!!!

It’s probably not as common these days in korea, but I heard that since homeless people used to sit on the streets and eat their food from the bowl in their hands, it didn’t look that great for you to do that in terms of food etiquette. i might be wrong.

If I was in these places I would be more inclined to perhaps follow a lot of this, but if I’m just at a restaurant here I’m eating it however the fuck I want ’cause I’m paying for it, haha.

I’m Vietnamese and I agree with Food Yeast, adjusting with sauces is your taste. It’s not like Japanese culture where it’s the pride of the chef to have it sent to the table “complete”.

Also I eat pho sometimes moving it to the soon, sometimes just with chopsticks. I don’t think the spoon rule is real I see many Vietnamese people just go at it with chopsticks. Not very credible when the source for this rule is a Japanese person specializing in ramen.

some people need to chill. this article isn’t written by food nazis, they’re just trying to help you not look stupid/get insulted.
If some foreigner was sitting near you using their fork backwards or drinking water out of their cup with their spoon, then yes they might look rude and annoying, but most importantly they’ll look stupid.
so if you don’t care about that, then be ignorant and go represent the U.S. as shitty as you can.

Leave a Reply