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Apr 4, 2007 12:50 PM

Ever ask for chopsticks at a non-Asian restaurant?

Or, what's the expectation of the type of eating utensils a restaurant should have on hand?

Last night, took grandpa out for dinner at an Italian eatery and grandpa asked for chopsticks for his pasta. Waiter was, to say the least, flabbergasted. Grandpa ended up making do with the "fork".

I suppose it really isn't fair to expect non-Chinese or Asian restaurants to carry chopsticks, but then most diners DO expect Chinese restaurants to carry forks.

Why the difference?

And, have you ever had any luck getting chopsticks from a non-Asian restaurant?

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  1. Interesting question, never thought about that. I know that you can carry your own chopticks and some of the little knick knacky asian stores even carry chopstick holders. I have actually had disposable chopsticks in my purse sometimes b/c I don't always like the chopsticks at some restaurants. Maybe that would be a better solution for your grandpa, or you could bring it with you when you go to places where he may want to use chopsticks.

    1. chinese restaurants carry forks because a good majority of americans cannot use chopsticks. i watched a woman absolutely massacre maki with a fork and knife the other night.

      some places that serve quasi-asian food (like tuna tartare) may give you chopsticks when you order something appropriate. personally i find it an unnecessary pretense. kind of like getting a fish knife for a salmon filet. and when i was a server, i also thought it was pretentious for a guest to ask. i'm weird like that though.

      is your grandfather chinese?

      6 Replies
      1. re: hotoynoodle

        "is your grandfather chinese?"

        Yes, indeed he is.

        And, I dunno about pretense, but for some people (my grandpa included) I think eating with chopsticks is not only more comfortable (and, I suppose, comforting), but just the way noodles should be transported from Point A (the plate) to Point B (the mouth).

        1. re: ipsedixit

          As someone who grew up using chopsticks for most dishes, I do think the comfort level is understandable. My parents still use chopsticks as serving utensils for certain things because it's easier, and maybe a bit more graceful, to pick up broccoli with hashi than with stabbing it with a fork or digging it out with spoon. I suppose tongs would also work, but those just feel like giant chopsticks in a way :).

          I still struggle with certain pastas when using a fork/spoon combo, but I definitely think it's less messy. It also prevents you from taking too much in one bite, a la I Love Lucy.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            I eat popcorn and flaming hot cheetos with chopsticks :)

            I can't cook without chopsticks either.....

            1. re: MeowMixx

              I think I'm going to copy your idea and start using chopstix when I eat Hot Cheetos. No more orange fingers!

            2. re: ipsedixit

              my pretense comment referred to western diners in a western restaurant. even if it's fusion. if your grandfather is chinese, and feels more comfortable with stix, it would be easier just to carry them, i should think. i know if i tried to eat spaghetti with chopsticks my grandfather would roll over in his grave!

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                I completely agree with you -- I had the same question in my head as I read above -- as long as you are of Asian decent, you may be out of luck but making the request is not pretentious. But if I asked for chopsticks for Italian pasta, I think that would come off as rude - and bizarre. And as far as *why* there are often forks in Chinese restaurants etc. but no chopsticks in Italian... we are in America, after all... and forks are still by far the more popular utensil here. I have been to Asia and although we did not ask, so maybe there were forks and knives available, I never saw even white tourists eating with anything but chopsticks there.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. Next time bring your own chopsticks with you. Chinese restaurants in the US carry forks because most of their customers don't know how to use chopsticks. Most restaurants in China (except some in big cities) do not have forks.

              1. Couple of years ago in a remote area of East Timor I carved a set of chopsticks from bamboo while waiting for dinner. Otherwise it was eat by hand, which I can do--but not as well as use chopsticks. No one in the somewhat large group was the least bit offended. The chopticks actually came out really nice; and I still have them. Since then I always travel with a pair.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  You would probably do well on Survivor!