If planning on stopping into your favorite Thai restaurant near the Burlington mall, White Coconut Thai, it’s good to know proper table etiquette. Knowing the following will not only impress the staff, but it will save face if ever traveling to Thailand!
In many cultures, the head of the table is used to distinguish rank or hierarchy within the family. However, in Thailand, you’ll find this same individual sitting in the middle of the table. If you are a guest of the family, or dinner party, you are often seated directly across from the “head” to allow for more relaxed conversation.
Similar to many cultures throughout the world, Thai people are honored by age and social status. Before you even think of eating, you’ll want to make sure you know your ranking as the higher status, or eldest, will provide the signal to begin eating. If the signal is not given, once they begin to eat, it’s acceptable to follow.
Believe it or not, the only reason that you’ll find a pair of chopsticks in an American Thai restaurant is because people ask for them. Traditional Thai culture is similar to American practice when it comes to which utensils are used – a fork and spoon. This began during the 19th century when Westerners traveled to Thailand and used a spoon, fork, and knife at the table. To avoid being labeled as an undeveloped country, many upper-class citizens mimicked these ways, leaving behind eating with their hands.
However, if dining in a Thai restaurant, you’ll want to hold your primary utensil, the spoon in right hand and fork in the left. Combining the two utensils as one unit, diners scoop food into the spoon. A much easier method than fighting with tiny grains of rice and two sticks! Another notable mention here is that you’ll want to avoid handling food and communal utensils with your left hand, as it’s considered the “dirty” hand.
Unlike American culture where most events are rushed, in Thailand, eating is best enjoyed slowly. It’s not uncommon for dinners to last several hours as guests nibble and socialize with one another. Savor the moment and enjoy not only the meal but your company.
Enjoying a beer with dinner is almost as common as water with your workout. However, don’t be so quick to pour your drink. In Thailand, it’s custom to pour a drink for your neighbor. Thus, you’ll want to keep an eye on glasses around you and top them off as a gesture of kindness.
Although there is more we could delve into, these are good starters! For the most authentic Thai restaurant near the Burlington mall, stop by and visit us at White Coconut Thai. We are currently offering takeout on our hot dishes only. Visit our menu here and call us Tuesday – Sunday from 3 pm to 8:30 pm.