Vietnamese chopsticks - How to use?

Chopsticks are no stranger to meals in some Asian countries, but if you’re not from those countries, using chopsticks in some Vietnam’s restaurants may be quite challenging. 

You may wonder how Vietnamese could use chopsticks to pick up rice? Or even peanuts? How do they use them with only one hand? So many questions!  If you don’t want to be the last person to finish eating on the table, then this article is absolutely what you’re looking for!

First question, do all Asians use chopsticks? 

No. Chopsticks are only used  in several Asian countries, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and some other areas. Many Asian cultures use fork, knife, spoon or even  bare hands as major eating utensils. And the chopsticks in each country aren’t totally the same, the shape, the length, the patterns, the material… make the differences. Chinese chopsticks are mostly made of wood, they’re long and have a rectangular shape. Japanese chopsticks are made from wood or plastic today, they’re shorter than Chinese ones and rounded at the end. Since Korean chopsticks are made of stainless metal, they seem to be the most difficult to use. While chopsticks in Vietnam are usually made from bamboo or coconut wood, this design make them much easier to use because unlike wood, plastic or metal, these materials aren’t slippery.


Second, why do they use chopsticks instead of fork, knife? 

A simple pair of chopsticks is versatile. They can be used to cut soft food just like knife and pick up food just like fork, and sometimes when you have a meal with a Vietnamese family, you can see they don’t even use spoons. Actually the main reason is that the food they have are quite different and suitable to the usage of chopsticks. For example, they always eat with bowls, not plates, so the knife and fork are useless. , Unlike the beef steak , food is usually cut into small pieces before being cooked so that they can eat it in one bite. Noodles are popular in these countries and chopsticks are definitely the best eating utensils for them.

How can I learn to use chopsticks? 

Well, a little bit practicing is really useful before you come to a Vietnamese restaurant or have dinner with a Vietnamese family. It’s not too hard and can learn how to use them in 10 minutes. So let’s take the challenge! Hold the chopsticks with 3 fingers : the thumb, the index finger and the middle finger to. Make sure the two chopstick are placed evenly.  Don’t hold them too close or too far from the ends of the chopsticks. The three fingers should move gently together so that you can control the chopsticks’ ends open and close, the ring finger will naturally balance the chopsticks. If you don’t succeed, then don’t worry, every Vietnamese failed the first time, too.

Are there any rules for using chopsticks? 

Yes. The chopsticks play an important role in Vietnamese culture, some of the rules are related to spiritual factor so it’s necessary to keep them in mind.

1. Before the meal, chopsticks are put together into a bundle, children (or the smallest person) usually pair them and give to other people, make sure the chopsticks in a pair are the same length.

2. Don’t point your chopsticks at other people, that’s really impolite.

3. Don’t pick up the food directly into your mouth, place it in your bowl and wrap it neatly first

4. Don’t knock the chopsticks on the bowl,because that’s the act of a beggar and the sound annoys others, too.

5. Don’t pierce the chopstick straight into a bowl of food,especially a bowl of rice, this looks like the incense sticking into the censer on the altar 

6. Don’t pass food from chopsticks to chopsticks, this act is related to a custom in Vietnam’s funeral.

Now you’re ready for an authentic Vietnamese meal like a real Vietnamese. Trying something new is always tricky at the beginning, but when you get used to it, you can actually have fun with it. But if it’s too difficult for you, then don’t worry,  you can always ask for a fork or spoon. Enjoy your meal! 

At Lang Lieu restaurant, we are pleased to introduce to you everything about Vietnamese cuisine and also the culinary culture. Knowing that history deserves the narration and culture deserves the appreciation, Lang Lieu Restaurant stands by the utmost motto: “Inheritance, Preservation and Enhancement the Vietnamese culinary". 

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