Chinese Food – Mistakes To Avoid In Chinese Restaurants

28November 2021

We all want to know what mistakes to avoid in Chinese restaurants. Mistakes can happen everywhere and at any time.

When one thinks of Chinese food, one may think of takeaway. If this is the case, then it’s straightforward to make mistakes at a Chinese restaurant. 

Where in Wembley Might I Eat Great Chinese Food?

Welcome to the next article in our Chinese Focus: First Bite Series.

People often make the following mistakes in Chinese restaurants.

Below are some common examples, and how to avoid them.

1. Not Properly Specifying What You Want

Be specific when you order your food so as not to confuse the waiter or waitress. We often ask for “chicken with veggies,” which is very different from chicken with broccoli.

When sending the order to the kitchen, say what you want precisely. As is often said, If you value it, specify it.

2. Not Knowing About MSG

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavour enhancer that is often in Chinese food. If you’re allergic to MSG, be sure to ask the waiter about it. They should know what’s in your food and whether or not there is any MSG added. That way you can avoid it.

MSG makes some people light-headed, which can be pretty off-putting, especially if you intend to walk or drive after your meal.

Be sure to pay attention to the Sweet and Sour dishes – they often contain monosodium glutamate.

However, as it is a flavour enhancer, you can expect to find it in soups, dressings and sauces, seasonings and so on.

3. Eating Only From The Takeaway Menu

Chinese cuisine has so much more to offer than takeaway! When you eat out at Chinese restaurants, try new dishes and learn from what they get made.

You never know, you may find a new favourite dish! You could begin by trying the breakfast or lunch menu instead of always choosing to eat out in the evening.

When you have a lunch or early afternoon meal, you’ll come across a different set of foods that may surprise you in their variation and diversity of flavour. See dim sum below.

4. Ordering Too Much

When eating at Chinese restaurants, don’t go overboard with your order. As tempting as it may be to order the entire menu, try not to do this.

Eat what you can and share the rest with someone else or save it for later.

Here are two situations to which you should pay attention.

    1. Ordering too much becomes easy when you’re hungry. Instead of satisfying yourself with the ordering, begin by typing a few small menu items and tell yourself that you’ll order more if you’re still hungry.
    2. Ordering too much becomes easy when you’re trying to impress your friends, and you want to prove they’ve been missing out. I’ve done this in the past, and it was truly disheartening to see my companions visibly wither when the food kept coming and coming.

Be warned.

5. Not Knowing About dim sum

If you’ve never had dim sum before, make sure to try it when you go out for Chinese food! Dim sum is a kind of Chinese cuisine that consists of small dishes typically served in small quantities.

A lot of foods like pork buns and shrimp dumplings are on the menu. I mentioned above the sheer variety of the dim sum options. Dim sum can be delicious.

Ideally, there are many dim sum dishes you should know. Similarly, if you’re looking to try dim sum, there are places in Wembley and Colindale that may interest you.

chinese-fresh-dumplings
Chinese-fresh-dumplings khinkali

6. Being Unsure About What You’re Ordering

If you have no idea what a particular dish is, then ask! If the waiter is busy, you can also ask other patrons about what they ordered and see if it’s something that interests you.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help when in a new environment.

7. Not Using Chopsticks

When eating at Chinese restaurants, make sure you know how to use chopsticks. You shouldn’t feel awkward if you don’t know how; it is straightforward to learn!

Once the food arrives, give it a try if you think your skills are up to par. One advantage of using is that you’re not likely to be as bloated afterwards as when shovelling large chunks of food down your throat.

8. Not Telling the Waiter What You Think

Tell the waiter if you don’t like how your meal got cooked or didn’t receive all you ordered. Doing so will allow them to fix the problem, and you get your meal how it’s supposed to be.

If this worries you, then it should not. With a bit of forethought, I believe you should be able to say anything to anyone if you phrase it correctly and use the correct tone.

The other person may still not respond the way you’d like or hope for, but you may have just begun a difficult conversation, which is a good thing.

They’ll also appreciate your honesty!

9. Not Asking for Fortune Cookies

Fortune cookies are a very traditional part of any Chinese meal. If you don’t already have one, ask for one with your meal!

You can say, “I’m feeling fortunate today. Do you have any fortune cookies”?

10. Not Asking About the Bill

When finished eating and ready to pay, make sure that you ask for the bill. You should never assume that it has been taken care of because this could result in paying more than you should.

To avoid these common mistakes, you must do your research or have a trusted friend who has been before. 

Otherwise, you could find yourself with an unpleasant dining experience and missing out on some of the best Chinese food in town.

Where in Wembley Might I Eat Great Chinese Food?

If you have made any particular mistakes not mentioned here, be sure to add them in the comments below.

Don McDonald

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