3 Things to Note before Eating Out in Hong Kong

Cultural difference is impossible to avoid you travel abroad. Hong Kong, just like any other cities in the world, has its own distinct culture. There is a chance that you will experience culture shock in different aspects of your life in Hong Kong, one of which will most likely be Hong Kong’s eating culture. I have witnessed several things that are quite unique about Hong Kong’s eating culture, so I will share some of my peculiar experiences with you, so that you could avoid being unpleasantly surprised or ending up in an awkward situation.

Rude Waiters/Waitresses

Staff in Hong Kong can be quite rude and might sometimes outright scold their customers. This is especially true for the local people of older generations, who usually work in local restaurants. I find that friendliness and politeness is quite subjective, and these attitudes might seem completely normal in Hong Kong, so I never take an offense to it. An important thing about the ordering culture here is that many waiters/waitresses can be very impatient, so you should really know what you are going to order before calling for them.

Table Sharing

Back in my home country of Indonesia it is weird for strangers to sit at the same table, and I would never usually sit with someone I don’t know even if there is a space next to them. However, sharing a table in Hong Kong is normal and is expected in most restaurants, especially the busier ones. This is because Hong Kong’s restaurants tend to have less space, and the incredibly dense population makes the table-sharing culture to be the norm. Moreover, crowded restaurants expect you to eat and leave as fast as you can; many waiters will take your plate as soon as you are finished (usually, there will be a subtle signal for you to leave, as there are others waiting to be seated).

Hidden Dining Costs

This ‘hidden’ costs are more prevalent in local restaurants as they tend to not provide any English menus. This ‘hidden’ costs usually stem from the fact that most of us cannot read Chinese characters. Once, I unknowingly upgraded my ‘ordinary’ noodles to udon noodles, which cost me a bunch of unexpected HKDs. Some waiters will ask you whether you want to get add-ons for your food in a clear fashion, but others will try to trick you into purchasing something that you did not order. My suggestion is to download Google Translate which would come in handy in these situations, or, especially, if you are planning to explore the local food scene.

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