Australian diners and those in other western countries enjoy Korean food without worrying about the expected etiquette. But the Korean cultural habits can be interesting.
- Wait for the older person to be seated. And then wait till they lift their utensils before you start eating.
- It is polite to say ‘I will eat well’ before you start. This means you have been anticipating the meal.
- The bowl of food stays on the table. Unlike many other Asian cultures you are not supposed to lift the bowl to your mouth.
- Korean will often greet you by asking ‘have you eaten?’ This is not an invitation, they are not asking you out. It is their way of asking ‘are you well? This appears to have originated in a time when food was scarce.
- If a senior diner offer you a drink you are expected to accept. Hold you glass with both hands as they pour the drink and thanks them when they are finished.
- Offer to refill other people cups before filling your own, starting with the senior person at the table.
- Use chopsticks correctly. Never use them to stab food.
- You can use the back of the chopsticks to pass food.
- Leave chopsticks on the right of the plate. Never leave them upright in the rice as this is too similar to a Korean funeral tradition.
- Never waste food. Take smaller portions and finish them. You can have more latter if needed. Again, this probably dates form the time when food was scarce.
- When the meal has finished always thank the host(s) by saying that you ate well.
There are many familiar meats in a Korean BBQ, but they are prepared differently in this foreign culture. Enjoy the different take on an old favorite.