When you think of Chinese food, the first thing you probably think of is takeout. However, there are a number of sit-down Chinese restaurants in the U.S., and dining at one can be a really enjoyable experience that is very worth having. You may find, though, that ordering at such a restaurant comes with a few intricacies. Here are a few tips to guide you.
1. Order for the table.
In most American restaurants, it is customary for each person to order their own dish. This is not traditional in Chinese restaurants. The menu will have been made with the intention of diners ordering dishes to share, family-style. You should plan on ordering about one dish per person at the table, perhaps with a few extras, but these dishes will be shared. In fact, the centers of the tables at most Chinese restaurants rotate around so you can "pass" the dishes and serve yourself without picking up the hot serving plates.
2. Let the host order.
Choose one person to place the order. If someone invited the rest of your party to dinner, then that person is the "host" and should do the ordering. If there is no distinct host, then pick someone. What you want to avoid is having three or four different people each shout the names of dishes to the server, who assumes they will be focusing on one person.
3. Order a variety.
There will likely be Americanized dishes on the menu, such as sesame chicken. While there is nothing technically wrong with ordering these dishes if that's what you like, you will be missing out if you do not also order some more typical Chinese dishes. Sichuan beef, hot pot, Peking duck — these are all delicious dishes worth trying. Remember that since you're ordering for the group, it's okay to experiment a little. Someone is bound to like the dish!
4. Order green tea.
Some sit-down Chinese restaurants will automatically bring you tea with the meal. Others have it as an inexpensive option on the menu. In any case, you should have some. It is a traditional accompaniment to the meal, and once you eat Chinese a time or two, the meal will feel incomplete without green tea. Note that it is polite to drink the tea without any sugar or milk added.
With the tips above, ordering from a Chinese restaurant will be more straightforward. You're going to enjoy a lovely meal!
To know more about going to a Chinese restaurant, contact restaurants near you.