Thais have great respect for their food. They prepare their dishes carefully and gracefully. They make sure that every ingredient has a significant contribution to the overall dish. And yes, they also pay high respect once they start eating. These are likewise things you should take note when dining in a Thai restaurant in Singapore, as your gestures show how you pay homage not only to the cuisine itself, but to the Thai culture in general.
So how exactly should you act when eating Thai food? Here are some etiquette lessons to keep in mind:
- Eat with your spoon.
Just like in other Asian countries, Thais have a strict observance of using their hands for specific eating functions. In this regard, you have to eat with your spoon and not your fork. This is because the spoon is held by the right hand, while the fork is held by the left, and Thais consider the right hand as the clean hand-the only hand that can be used when eating.
Eating food right off the fork is a major no-no in Thai dining, as it is a form of disrespect to the food in the same manner as eating the food off a knife in European etiquette. You may have to cut the food in bite size pieces before eating them off using the spoon.
In traditional Thai diners, you may be only given a spoon and not a fork.
- Place the utensils on the plate at a 6:30 position.
When done eating, you have to place the spoon and fork on your finished plate in the said position, as this is a sign that you are done with your meal. This will also signal the staff to remove your dirty plate off the table.
- Chopsticks are for noodles.
There are times when chopsticks are provided for noodle dishes. If so, then use them for your meal. However, if they are not provided, there’s no need to request for them and instead eat with your spoon and fork.
- Make it a point to share your food.
Thai dining is meant for sharing, thus you have to be more open to sharing your food to the other guests seated on your table. If you may notice, servings are provided in big portions, and this means they have to be offered to everybody in your group. You must show the courtesy to share by offering them to your fellow diners before actually proceeding to eat.
- There’s a proper way of eating sticky rice.
If you haven’t noticed it yet, there’s a proper way of eating sticky rice when you are in a Thai restaurant. You have to roll it in a ball using the tip of your fingers in the right hand, then you pick up other pieces of food with the rice using the same fingers. As much as possible you use only the tip of your fingers to touch the food before putting them into your mouth.
Don’t worry, when eating sticky rice, restaurants place a bowl of water where you can wash your hands after eating.
- Beware of “Whan Na.”
In Thai restaurants in Singapore, you may sometimes hear the staff saying the phrase “whan na.” Literally, this phrase refers to the act of the farmer throwing rice grains around the field during planting season. However, when it comes to dining, it refers to dropping the food off the plate, as the action is similar to scattering the grains. This is actually a reminder for you not to drop the food on the table, as this signifies wastage, and wasting food (no matter the amount) is a form of disrespect in Thai dining.