There are some things about dining in restaurants in Shanghai that I find odd.
- Only 1 menu per table. And lots of the menus are like Cheesecake Factory – they are like 20 pages, in part because there are pictures of the dishes. And since Dave likes to thoroughly read menus, only having one menu means taking turns.
- Sometimes the server will seat us, and then stand at the table waiting for us to order. This feels awkward to me, in part because of the previous point. We need some time with the 1 menu, but haven’t had much success so far in asking the server, in their local language, to come back in a few minutes.
- Restaurants don’t serve cold water. This is one of my frustrations when traveling in Europe also. But in Europe they typically serve room-temperature water. In Shanghai, the water is hot. Hot water means, to the locals, that the water is safe. I have learned how to ask in Mandarin for ice cubes.
- Food comes out in some random order. In the US, even at Applebees, when you order a salad or an appetizer, it comes out first before your main dish. And the main dishes come out at the same time for all people at the table. Because food comes out randomly, this can mean you are watching other people eat while you wait for your food.
- The servers never come back to ask if you’d like dessert. I like this because it has removed a temptation that I am not always able to ignore.
- The servers will bring the bill before the food comes out of the kitchen. I like this one also because when I am ready to leave it saves me from having to track down my server.
I still find eating at a sit-down restaurant in Shanghai to be a little intimidating. I don’t know the language, but I have found some success in acting like a two-year old and just pointing at what I want.
Shrimp and rice – my go-to dish
What do people from other countries find quirky about eating in restaurants in the US?