Here are the basic table manners and rules to dining out

basic table manner

Basic is the keyword here, table manners is the subject matter. And while you’d think basic table manners is common knowledge, we feel at times there are those that need a quick yet gentle refresher course.

At the dining table, whether you’re with family, a date, friends or striking a business deal, your knowledge of table manners is often revealing of your character and personality, and some might find your lack of social grace borderline offensive – and God knows you had no intention.

So to avoid any complications or worse, confrontations, below we have prepped a basic list of table manners we should all know.

table manner

Remember the Fundamentals

These rules may be obvious but we’ve seen these rules broken time and time again, so again, here are the basics.

-Use the napkin. The clean white napkin is there for you to place on your lap to protect your clothing and not to be left on the table and used as a tissue. When wiping your mouth with the napkin, bring your cloth to your mouth, and not the other way around. Keep the napkin on your lap till the end of your meal. At the end of the meal, re-fold the napkin loosely and place it on the table

- Silverware can be confusing: work your way in. Don’t use a steak knife for a butter knife, nor a soup spoon to eat your pasta. General rule is to work your way in, one set per course

-If you can’t make a reservation or will be delayed, call the restaurant if you’re playing host or ring the host, so they know when or whether to expect you

-Don’t speak with your mouth full, if someone strikes a conversation, chew first, your response can wait. Also keep in mind that your forkful of food should ever be so large that it requires a long time before you are done chewing

-To indicate you’re finished with your course, place your cutlery together at the “twenty past four” position; if unfinished place them separately, the knife at four o’clock and the fork at eight o’clock

-No elbows on tables, ever

table manner 2

Here are other gentle reminders:

To Begin The Meal

- When ordering, the ladies at the table should order first – no exceptions

- Depending on the formality of the meal, it is considered good manners for men to seat women. If the meal is exceptionally formal, men are expected to rise should a women leave or arrive the table

- In Hong Kong, it is generally acceptable to hail the waiter with the raise of a hand to catch the waiter’s attention

How To Use Your Cutlery

- Should there be a serving spoon, it should be used at all times

- Avoid any clinking and scratching of the cutlery on your plate

- Never lick your cutlery

- Don’t put dirty cutlery back on the table cloth

- When using sauces always scoop from the spoon prescribed with each sauce – don’t mix the sauces


How To Eat Your Food

- Chew with your mouth closed and chew quietly

- When eating pasta of the spaghetti-sort, twirl the pasta with a fork against a spoon to capture just the right amount per bite, without making a mess of the dish. Never use your napkin as a bib unless you are a child

- When drinking soup, scoop the soup away from you, take a small spoonful at first to test the temperature. When done, the spoon is to be left in the bowl

- Peas are to be gently mashed, don’t try to poke into them individually

- Cut or fold your salad leaves so they become reasonable bite-sized pieces

- Cut and bite one piece of meat at a time. Not only does cutting it up all at once look childish, it also accelerates the cooling of your food


- Don’t gnaw at the bone at the dinner table – it’s barbaric

- Don’t take more food from the sharing plate whilst chewing or while you still have food of the same kind on your plate

- Sushi is to be eaten in one bite, the only exception is futomaki or if sushi is too big to eat in one mouth-full. Don’t try to cut it with your fork and knife

Tatler Asia
© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.