When traveling overseas to conduct business studying the culture and customs of that country is imperative. Offending or making a mockery out of someone’s customary practices while dining can leave a bad impression and ruin a business deal, even if done unintentionally.  When traveling to Asia for business keep the following in mind:

Dining and Entertainment

Asian citizens enjoy entertaining in bars and restaurants. They take special care to ensure that the food is exquisitely flavored, prepared, and presented. In China and Hong Kong, expect a banquet styled meal with innumerable courses served one after the other. Arrive on time and be prepared to eat. If you do not know how to use chopsticks you should practice long before the initial dinner. Eating with chopsticks is customary and asking for cutlery will be seen as an insult. We will discuss the use of chopsticks in further detail below. Take something from every serving dish, even if it’s only a small portion. Never clean your plate – symbolically, the magnificence of the meal means that you can’t finish it. In Japan, you will be hosted to an evening of eating and drinking. Let your host order and enjoy something from each platter. Don’t refuse to eat sushi or sashimi – (both of which involve raw fish) – you’ll insult your host. If drinking beer or sake do so slowly – you host will fill your cup every time it is empty.

Koreans entertain both at home and at restaurants. Arrive on time if you’re going to a private home, and bring a small gift. If you’re invited out to a night on the Town, be appropriately grateful, for your host has probably spared no expense. The Filipinos style of entertaining is to invite you to a private home, where you and a gaggle of your host’s friends will enjoy a lavish meal.

As a rule of thumb, when in doubt look at what others who are familiar with the customs are doing and follow along!

Chopstick Do’s and Don’ts

Communal Chopsticks

Other utensils

Eating from common dishes

Seniority and guests at the table

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