Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Won't Miss #41 - willy nilly food serving (reflection)

I can't say that I have eaten in a lot of restaurants in America, but I have eaten out about once every month and a half for the past two years. In all but one case, everyone at the table was served their food at the same time, and, unsurprisingly, that was at a Japanese place. For a culture in which people do everything together, I'm surprised that nobody cares if everyone gets to eat at the same time at the table. Food is served whenever it is convenient for the servers and the kitchen rather than in accord with the customers' needs or desires.

I don't miss sitting down to eat a meal at a restaurant and finding that I was eating 20 minutes before my seatmates because the kitchen and wait staff couldn't be bothered to coordinate. 


  1. I found this post interesting as when we first visited Japan, my husband and I noticed that our meals were brought out separately most of the time. Not a problem, just an observation. And, we don't find that happens as much here, at least at the places we eat. And, about half the Japanese restaurants we go to here, also serve "separately" -- again, not a problem, just an observation --

  2. For me, it really depends on how far apart they are. It sometimes was ridiculous in Japan, especially with a larger group as it's the Western custom for everyone to wait to start until everyone else can eat - it's considered rude to tuck in while someone else has an empty plate in front of them. When you've got 3-4 people and they're all served at staggered levels, the first person's food can be stone cold by the time the last one is served.

    I've found that Chinese restaurants also sometimes serve dishes spaced apart, but usually not with a wide gap, but they also have a system with empty plates and expect sharing such that both people are eating from the same dish that has already been served.

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. Interesting. The staggered serving also occurs here in Malaysia -- must be an Asian thing? Since Malaysians have a strong culture of bonding over food and meals (one of the first words foreigners will learn here is 'makan' = eat), everyone will usually wait until all have received their food before starting to eat. That said, I've rarely experienced such bad service that food gets cold by the time everyone can start to eat.

    It's an interesting observation, though. I never thought of expecting food to arrive at the same time before. That's why I like reading this blog!

  4. I have nearly always had our dishes come at very different times in Japan. In fact, it's a common complaint from many NJ people visiting or leaving Japan. Perhaps I have to get the names of the restaurants you frequented off of you ;) I often find myself wanting to chime in when your experience in Japan doesn't match mine, but the truth is we all have such a great variety of expereinces even within the same country and culture. I always like to see a different take on something I thought I knew.


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