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Follow These Rules When Eating Asian Street Food

by Allie Moore

Jul 20, 2019

© Anna Issakova | Dreamstime

Tips / Travel

Asian countries are known for street food. From pad Thai in Bangkok to pho and dumplings in Vietnam, it wouldn’t be a trip to Asia without sampling some of the food cooked right outside your hotel’s doors. Before sampling this world-famous style of cuisine, brush up on the following tips to ensure you don’t commit a culinary faux pas.


Mind the utensils. In China, avoid placing your chopsticks upright in your bowl of rice as it reminds Chinese people of incense found at a ceremony for the dead. In Taiwan, avoid knocking on your bowl with your fork or chopstick as this is an act that only beggars perform, so locals consider it a bad omen.


Don’t say ‘no’ to a drink in Cambodia. After sampling food at a food stall and chatting with the vendor, he or she is likely to offer you a shot of whiskey or a glass of beer when you have finished eating. Although it’s acceptable to excuse yourself if you don’t drink, it’s not polite to explicitly say “no.”


Eat with your hands where appropriate. It may seem unnatural to Westerners, but eating with your hands is quite normal with certain Indian street foods like panipuri. Elsewhere in India, locals mix rice with lentils with their hands. If in more remote villages, remember to eat only with your right hand.


Stay quiet in Indonesia. It’s considered rude here to eat or drink loudly (such as when sipping a drink or chewing food) and, after a meal, retreat to the bathroom to pick your teeth with a toothpick rather than doing it in front of others.



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