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Eric's Kitchen

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How to Use Chopsticks and Chopstick Etiquette


Chopsticks1As we all know, when you visit a Chinese restaurant (or any Asian food restaurant for that matter), there is always a set of chopsticks waiting for you. For many of us, the mere idea of being able to handle these “eating” utensils sends us into a spin. However, help is at hand! See below for a guide on how to use chopsticks and what chopstick etiquette you should follow:

The Main Chopstick

What you have to remember is there is what’s called an “anchor” chopstick and this is the one that should never move when you’re using it. To start, you should pick this one up with your thumb and middle finger.

It may seem a little obvious but the broader end of the chopstick should be at the top, and the narrower tip at the end. When you’re holding it correctly, it should be virtually immobile. Think of it as if you’re holding a pen but a little lower than normal.

The Moveable Chopstick

This is where things can get a bit tricky, and it will need some practice in the beginning. Your thumb and first finger should cover the top chopstick, but have a good play around until it feels comfortable. One thing you should always remember is the “pointy” end of the chopsticks should be level with each other.

If they’re not, you will get a cross over and that’s when things can get very messy at the table. No-one likes to be showered with pieces of rice or the odd bit of sizzling beef! One little trick to get them even is to lightly tap them on the table before you start to use them.


As the saying goes “practice makes perfect” so have a good play with your chopsticks. Practice opening and closing them and don’t be afraid to adjust where you hold them so it feels natural to you. You can even experiment with picking up non-food items before you head out to the restaurant.

Once you feel confident enough, start with say, noodles or rice and once you have that mastered you can then move on to other food items like fish or meat.

Know The Rules!

In many Asian restaurants you will be offered to share a large platter of food. However, using your own chopsticks to dive into those tasty morsels is a big non-no! Instead, use the chopsticks that have come with the platter. This ensures the food you choose has not been near any utensils you’ve been using.

Other points to remember are:

  • Never pop your chopsticks into your food in an upright position. This is seen as a bad omen and is highly frowned upon.
  • DO NOT spear your food if you’re having trouble with your chopsticks, this is regarded as impolite. If you are having a problem, no-one is going to chastise you for turning to a more traditional method.
  • When you’re finished eating, make sure you don’t cross your chopsticks over on your plate. Instead, always lay them side by side and they should sit to the left.

So, there you have it! A quick guide on how to use chopsticks and chopstick etiquette – enjoy!

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