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Chopsticks Etiquettes in Vietnam and Vietnamese Meals

chopstick-etiquettes-in-vietnam

Each country has its own style of making and using chopsticks. The chopsticks used in Vietnam are often much simpler in comparison to those used in Korea or Japan. The design of chopsticks also varied in Vietnam. To be specific, chopsticks from Northern Vietnam are usually made from bamboo, while chopsticks in the south are usually made from coconut wood.

In terms of usage, chopsticks etiquettes in Vietnam also seem to be less complicated. However, there are a few dos and don’ts that you had better bear in mind, which will be explained in this guide, along with some tutorials.

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How to Use Chopsticks

Firstly, before holding the chopsticks, make sure that the two ends of the chopsticks are placed evenly. After that, using the 3 fingers, the thumb, the index finger, and the middle finger, to gently hold the chopsticks. The middle finger is placed under and between the chopsticks to close or make a gap between them. The thumb and index finger clamp the chopsticks to hold them firmly, and you can balance the chopsticks using your ring finger.

chopsticks etiquettes in vietnam 2

Dos in Chopsticks Etiquettes in Vietnam

1. Wipe the chopsticks before using while eating out

Vietnamese quite often wipe the chopsticks with a paper napkin or lime juice in order to pasteurize and remove dust from the chopsticks, making sure they are clean enough to use. That is also often applied to other utensils like the soup spoon. You are recommended to do the same thing for other people's chopsticks in the meal as a polite eating manner.

2. Use clean chopsticks or reverse them to pick the food for others

In Vietnam, the culture of using chopsticks is a way to express your caring to others in a subtle way. At the beginning of a meal, especially in the traditional meals, before picking up their own items, Vietnamese usually use clean chopsticks to pick up food for others who sit near them. In the middle of the meal, if you want to or somebody asks you to pass them a piece of food using chopsticks, you are supposed to reserve the chopsticks and use the clean ends to do this.

3. Rest your chopsticks properly

Avoid sticking your chopsticks upright in the middle of the rice bowl. When you need to place chopsticks down, you should rest them either on a designated chopsticks holder or on the side of the bowl.

chopsticks etiquettes in vietnam 3

4. Other suggested guidance

  • Using chopsticks like a knife and fork to cut soft foods into smaller portions for children is widely accepted.
  • If you are invited to a Vietnamese family meal by locals and you are not familiar with using chopsticks, it is also fine when you ask for a fork for your convenience.
  • Once you have done with your meal, you could place your chopsticks parallel to the bowl to indicate that you have finished your eating.

Read more about Vietnamese Traditional Table Manners

Don’ts in Chopsticks Etiquettes in Vietnam

1. Don’t use chopsticks when the length of them are uneven

In ancient beliefs, uneven chopsticks would bring bad luck such as death. In the past, the coffin is formed by five wooden planks, two short and three longer. The unequal chopsticks are thought to resemble these wooden planks, representing the unfortunate event. Thus, using uneven chopsticks is a very bad omen.

2. Hit the chopsticks repeatedly against the bowls

The act of knocking the bowl into the bowl is considered to be the same as a beggar because the beggars used to use the chopsticks to knock on the pot in order to sound out, and then, ask for food. That is considered to be bad luck in chopsticks etiquettes in Vietnam which you should absolutely avoid, especially when going to business dinners. In addition, the Vietnamese also appreciate the courtesy that you will not make clanking chopsticks noise or chewing sound while eating.

chopsticks etiquettes in vietnam 4

3. Pierce chopsticks through food or stick them upright in a bowl of rice

Do not put the chopsticks vertically into a rice bowl. This action is thought to be similar to sticking incense into the censer. If you put a pair of chopsticks into the bowl like that, it would seem like you are consecrating this bowl of rice to the dead.

While upright chopstick in a bowl is associated with offering to the dead, piercing chopsticks through food to pick it up makes you look like a greedy person.

4. Drop the chopsticks on the floor

In the past, this behavior signifies serious mistakes because people think that all ancestors are resting on the ground and should not be disturbed. Today, although not many people hold such spiritual belief, you should still be careful not to drop the chopsticks as it would make you look clumsy, much like scattering food on the table while using the chopsticks.

5. Other taboos need to be avoided while using a pair of chopsticks

  • Leave your chopsticks crossed on your bowl
  • Use the chopsticks to point at something or someone
  • Do not pass the food from chopsticks to chopsticks
  • Hover your chopsticks around without taking any food
  • Instead of picking up food from the table and place it directly in the mouth, you had better place them in your own bowl first

Learn more about Vietnamese superstitions.

chopsticks etiquettes in vietnam 6

Conclusion on Chopsticks Etiquettes in Vietnamese Meals

Using chopsticks might be a little tricky at the beginning. But once you get used to it, you would find it extremely useful in eating, especially when you eat Vietnamese noodles dishes like Pho or even Bun bo Hue.

 

Being one of the oldest countries in Asian, Vietnamese culture is distinctive, interesting and fascinating at the same time. There are many choices for you in order to explore varied aspects of Vietnamese traditional, including chopsticks etiquettes, such as I love food tour and Saigon’s other side tour.

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Comments

Guest - Blair on Thursday, 30 January 2020 11:45

interesting read

interesting read
Guest - Gracey Hannah on Saturday, 04 January 2020 15:48

Wow, I know using chopsticks is a challenge already. There are still a lot of other things to learn about

Wow, I know using chopsticks is a challenge already. There are still a lot of other things to learn about
Guest - Alakananda on Friday, 08 November 2019 11:51

Hi, I'm not very efficient in using chopsticks but I'm very interested to take the street food tour. Will it be totally inappropriate to ask for fork?

Hi, I'm not very efficient in using chopsticks but I'm very interested to take the street food tour. Will it be totally inappropriate to ask for fork?
Guest - Alakananda on Friday, 08 November 2019 11:49

I can't use chopsticks that efficiently but i'm extremely interested to take the street food tour. Will it be too inappropriate to ask for fork?

I can't use chopsticks that efficiently but i'm extremely interested to take the street food tour. Will it be too inappropriate to ask for fork?
Hoang Pham on Friday, 08 November 2019 13:26

Hi, feel free to ask your guides for the forks if you're not used to using the chopsticks

Hi, feel free to ask your guides for the forks if you're not used to using the chopsticks
Guest - Savannah on Sunday, 27 October 2019 13:07

I find it very useful to know how to use chopsticks. If you travel to Vietnam or Asian countries, I recommend picking up this skill.

I find it very useful to know how to use chopsticks. If you travel to Vietnam or Asian countries, I recommend picking up this skill.
Guest - Tabitha Martin on Saturday, 19 October 2019 23:22

Is it ok if I cannot use the chopsticks in the food tours?

Is it ok if I cannot use the chopsticks in the food tours?
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Monday, 29 November 2021

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