Dining Etiquette Around the World


Australia may be a country with an abundance of multicultural food however; how often do we adopt the eating habits which complement a cuisine?

Let’s be honest, it takes practice to successfully finish a noodle dish in a timely manner using chopsticks. Is it acceptable to use the training wheel equivalent of a chopstick with one end pre glued together for ease? If you travelled to China, Japan or Singapore, would this be accepted or would it be classified as counter to dining etiquette? As a young nation we have not been as exposed to traditional formalities so what other customs might we be oblivious to?


Eating in Japan

When entering a traditional Japanese restaurant you may be advised to take off your shoes and wear indoor slippers to keep the outside germs out. If you are being greeted, make sure to bow instead of shake hands as a sign of respect. This can either be a nod of the head or a 45 degree angle bow depending on how casual or formal you would like to be.

Often you will be served miso soup with your meal, be sure to cup the bowl with two hands when lifting the bowl to drink. How you carry your chopsticks is also very important, never should you leave your chopsticks stuck into your food while eating. Better to rest them parallel next to your plate or bowl.

Unlike America, tipping is not expected and is accounted for in the price set. It is an offence to try and tip and your money will most likely be returned.



Unlike modern dining etiquette, eating with your hands is customary. The Indians believe that eating should involve all the senses, including touching. When people think of Indian cuisine they think of curries, that’s where the naan comes in handy and acts as a spoon for mopping up leftover sauce. Just make sure to wash your hands before and after. Traditionally, the left hand is used for personal hygiene and should not be used for eating. You should also leave a small amount on your plate to illustrate your satisfaction, if you have wiped the curry clean with naan it is a sign that you are still hungry and that your host has failed to feed you.




If an international traveller were to arrive in Australia what would they expect? If invited to the quintessential Australian BBQ they would be greeted with a handshake and a cold beverage. When it comes to dining out though, make sure you’re respectful to wait staff and always eat with your mouth closed. According to a study by online restaurant booking service Yumtable, 56% of survey respondents said snapping of the fingers to get a waiter/waitress’ attention was a no-no. 50% said it’d aggravate them if their dinner party chewed with their mouths open. According to Levi Aron, General Manager at Yumtable, Australians are still defining its foodie culture: “We have a lot to learn and are lucky to have cuisines from overseas headed our way. The foodie culture will grow.” Watch this space and watch dining etiquette evolve down under.



Ever wondered where the humble buffet was born and no, it was not Pizza Hut. For centuries, the Swedes, Danes and Norwegians have eaten from a smorgasbord. Literally translated as sandwich table, the Scandinavians are very particular about what to eat and how it should be eaten. It is bad manners to lump a range of foods on one plate and eat it all at once. Instead, it is polite to begin with a cold salad, then progress through the cold to hot dishes. You would not traditionally combine the two. This promotes a steady coming and going of the “buffet”.



Arriving fashionably late to a dinner invitation may be rude in some cultures, however in Italy it is accepted as the host is likely to still be preparing food.

When you break bread, understand that Italians are vocal people and it would be rude to tuck in to your meal before the host has announced Buòn appetito!

However tempting it is to slurp up your spaghetti, it is considered rude and should be eaten in one mouthful. To show your appreciation for the food, gestures go far; bring your fingers together and raise them up to your mouth and kiss them.