Chinese etiquette related to eating are some of the most intricate table manners in the world.
Developed over thousands of years, Chinese etiquette has become an art – to the point, that one little slip up can cause complete disaster for the eaters in question.
With China becoming more of a popular vacation spot than ever, I’ve created this trivia quiz to test what you know of their food culture.
Not only will you be intrigued by these 20 questions; it may even prepare you, should you ever travel to China.
Note about the Quiz Itself
- The Chinese etiquette customs here are based on a restaurant meal with Chinese elders (such as senior members of the family).
- Not familiar with these? Don’t worry. This trivia game is for everyone.
- The questions are divided into four sections.
Need a downloadable version of this trivia quiz?
Click here for your PDF copy of this Chinese dining trivia quiz.
Chinese Etiquette – Chopsticks
1. Why must you never stand chopsticks upright in your rice?
a. They resemble candles being burnt for lovers who’ve left
b. They resemble joss sticks used in rituals for the deceased
c. They resemble the male and female at war in families
d. They resemble knives pointed up towards heaven
2. When you point chopsticks at someone, it means what?
a. You’re wishing luck on that person
b. You’re insulting that person
c. You’re respecting that person
d. You’re forgiving that person
3. How do you eat rice using chopsticks?
a. Pick up clumps of rice and bring them to your mouth
b. Eat a grain at a time, by bringing the rice bowl up to your chin
c. Scoop rice into your mouth, by bringing the rice bowl up to your chin
d. Bring your mouth to the table and use chopsticks as a scoop
4. Never bang your chopsticks like drumsticks. Why?
a. Tells others at the table you’re incompetent
b. Tells others at the table you disrepect their children
c. Tells others at the table you’re impotent
d. Tells others at the table you’re a beggar
5. How do you correctly choose the food you want to eat with your rice?
a. Sort through the food plate until you find what you want
b. Pick a piece of food you intend to eat directly from the food plate
c. Accept the first thing seen on the food plate, even if it’s too big
d. Wait until someone offers you something, not before
Chinese Etiquette – How to Eat
6. If there is, say, one prawn left on the dish plate, and you want it, what should you do?
a. Just go for it, nobody will mind
b. Leave it there, as a sign of appreciation
c. Offer it to your host or an elder
d. Ask around if anyone wants it
7. Where do put the bones from meat you’ve eaten?
a. On the table napkin provided
b. On the table cloth provided
c. On the serving plate provided
d. In your rice bowl only
8. What does a clean plate signify to guests?
a. That you’re ready for dessert
b. That you’re not done eating
c. That you’re full up from eating
d. That you’re unhappy with your meal
9. What does slurping your soup signify?
a. That you’re enjoying the company
b. That you’re enjoying the flavor
c. That you’re enjoying the conversation
d. That you’re enjoying the food
10. Regarding the serving of food, which is considered good manners?
a. Having food put on your plate by the male beside you, even when you haven’t asked for it
b. Allowing your empty plate to be used by the male beside you, because his own plate is full
c. Covering your rice bowl with your hand, so as to refuse food offered to you as a courtesy
d. Returning uneaten food offered to you to either the main food plate or to the person who offered
Chinese Etiquette – Drinking
11. When the host tops up everyone’s cups of green tea, whose cup should they top up first?
a. Their own cup should be topped first
b. The cup of the eldest female at the table
c. The cup of the person sitting next to the host
d. The cup of the youngest person at the table
12. Which direction must the spout of the teapot be facing?
a. Towards the seat where nobody is sitting
b. Towards the seat where the host is sitting
c. Towards the seat where the eldest is sitting
d. Towards the seat where the guest of honor is sitting
13. How must younger members of the dinner party clink their drinks with an elder at the table?
a. By clinking the elder’s glass with their forefinger
b. By clinking the elder’s glass with the base of their glass
c. By clinking below the rim of the elder’s glass
d. By clinking the underside of the elder’s glass
14. During drinking or speaking, what happens to your chopsticks?
a. Nothing, as eating carries on as normal
b. Should be kept off the table, to signify a pause in eating
c. Should be placed on your plate, as eating isn’t allowed
d. Should be balanced on your rice bowl, so people know you’re on a drinking break
15. What’s the best way to turn down the drinking of alcohol at the table without offending the host?
a. Tell the host before the party you don’t drink
b. Accept the offers, but use them to buy the host a bottle of wine
c. Refuse offers to drink with as much politeness as possible
d. Tell the host you’re paying for the meal before the meal has started
Chinese Etiquette for Eating in General
16. If you can’t reach a dish at the table, what’s the best thing to do?
a. Ask politely for the dish to be passed to you
b. Move the dish to your side of the table
c. Wait until an elder or host offers you the dish
d. Ask the waiter to bring the dish to you
17. Why would a waiter combine two half-finished dishes onto one plate, if the meal isn’t over yet?
a. To indicate they need your table for new customers
b. To make room for new dishes at the table
c. To let you know the dessert courses are arriving
d. To nudge you into ordering more dishes
18. In a restaurant, who at the table gets to order the food with the waiter?
a. A person nominated by everyone at the table
b. A person chosen by importance of job title
c. A person who is the elder or host at the table
d. A person selected by the host to order
19. Why is “fighting to pay the bill" considered good Chinese dining customs, even if the host intends to pay (or, the winner of the “fight")?
a. Indicates the dinner has come to a close
b. Shows appreciation and gratitude
c. Informs the host you respect his/her family
d. Lets everyone know you’re not self-centered
20. When everyone’s seated, when can you start eating the food?
a. Only when the last person has sat down
b. Only when the venue host indicates you can
c. Only when the eldest boy indicates you can
d. Only when the dinner host indicates you can
Chinese Etiquette: A Dining Trivia Quiz – answers
1. b. They resemble joss sticks used in rituals for the deceased / 2. b. You’re insulting that person / 3. c. Scoop rice into your mouth, y bringing the rice bowl up to your chin / 4. d. Tells others at the table you’re a beggar / 5. b. Pick the piece of food you intend to eat directly from the food plate (note that answer a. is considered rude!)
6. d. Ask around if anyone wants it / 7. c. On the serving plate provided / 8. b. That you’re not done eating / 9. d. That you’re enjoying the food / 10. a. Having food put on your plate by the male beside you / even when you haven’t asked for it.
11. c. The cup of the person sitting next to the host / 12. a. Towards the seat where nobody is sitting / 13. c. By clinking below the rim of the elder’s glass / 14. c. Should be placed on your plate / as eating isn’t allowed / 15. c. Refuse offers to drink with as much politeness as possible.
Chinese Etiquette for Eating in General
16. a. Ask politely for the dish to be passed to you / 17. b. To make room for new dishes at the table / 18. c. A person who is the elder or host at the table / 19. b. Shows appreciation and gratitude / 20. d. Only when the dinner host indicates you can.