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Is it rude to eat when your food arrives first at a restaurant?

By Scott Wilson, SoraNews24

J-Town Net is a website that runs surveys for Japanese people online, asking all the important questions like ranking the prefectures by best personalities and deciding whether trains are crowded or not.

Recently they put out the results of another survey, one asking people whether they wait for everyone’s orders to arrive at a restaurant before they start eating, or if they dig in as soon as their food arrives.

It’s an interesting social question, and the two answers both have their pros and cons. Is it polite to wait for everyone else, or is it polite to not make them feel weird by sitting there with food in front of you?

Here’s how the 735 Japanese people who answered broke down:

Eat Before Everyone Else: 55.2 percent

Wait Until Everyone’s Arrives: 44.8 percent

Honestly that’s pretty close to fifty-fifty, with a small preference for not waiting. The numbers make sense though, as there are so many different situations and types of people that could change up which strategy is better.

For those who preferred not waiting, they cited wanting to eat food while it was still warm and fresh, being told by the people they’re with to go ahead and eat, and usually telling others to do the same too.

One person also brought up another valid point: “When the food arrives, I eat first no matter if I’m with my boss or my friends. I’m a slow eater, and even if I start eating right away I usually finish after they’re done and end up making them wait. I tell them I take a long time and start before them.”

Another point many of them brought up was that they just say osaki ni before eating ahead of others, which is a polite way of saying you’re doing something before other people, such as leaving work for the day. It’s practically a phrase tailor made for this situation.

However, those who preferred to wait cited being embarrassed to eat first, enjoying their food more when eating together, or opposite of the last person, being a fast eater and forcing themselves to take their time.

Even among those who preferred to wait though, there were some who conceded it was sometimes not the best idea:

“I typically wait. But for ramen, hot soba, or curry rice where the rice will soak up the sauce if you’re not quick, I sometimes eat first after saying something to the people I’m with. If it’s curry with naan though, then of course I wait.”

“I wait. But I always tell others to go ahead when they’re with me. Waiting feels cold, and making them wait when they’re hungry is cruel. Plus you never know when your own food is going to arrive.”

Those are some solid points there, especially about it feeling colder to wait. Personally I couldn’t imagine waiting to eat with any of my friends, or for them to wait with me. Conversely, if I was eating with my boss or someone new I wanted to make a good impression on, I might consider waiting… depending on how hungry I was.

Source: NicoNico News via My Game News Flash

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© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Of course it is impolite to eat first unless otherwise invited by others at the table to do so.

9 ( +18 / -9 )

I hate eating before others, and I hate cold food, too, but let's solve this upstream, not downstream.

It's impolite and unprofessional of the restaurant to put us in that situation in the first place.

If there's a dish that takes longer to prep, specify that on the menu, please.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

Social distancing and eating alone resolves the issue.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

My Japanese friends/colleagues do that. I got used to it. But still, I would wait if my food comes first. Its mannersI grew up with.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

Curry is piping hot. Pancakes get cold quickly. Case by case. Check with your companion.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

I like to share a little bit of what I'm eating with the person who hasn't gotten theirs yet. If there are more people then to hell with that.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Depends on who, where and why your there. Not everything is black and white.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Of course there are no absolutes in this BUT it is better manners to wait till everyone is served, especially if this is SUPPOSED to be a nice evening dinner. Not terribly important for the run of the mill lunch quaffing though.

And yeah as pointed out above a LOT of restaurants are really BAD at how they time & serve meals, some are downright awful & frankly ruin the dinner some times!!

7 ( +9 / -2 )

I am not bothered by that so much.

I am bothered by no soap and hot water in the toilets. I wonder how employees wash hands after they do their thing.

My company or myself waiting for a server to appear to bring condiments or drink refills and when they do arrive they smell like cigarette smoke.

I hate onions and I hate to be told here "Sorry, but food must be served as it is prepared" when the onions are added on top and not cooked into the dish.

It is especially rude and unprofessional for managers, servers and cooks to put their diners in the above situations to begin with. As well as not timing preparation and food service times.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

normally i would wait too, but sometimes other dishes come out a lot later than the first ones. i'd wait, unless the other person noticed and mentioned something like "a dozo, atsui uchi ni..." then i'd dig in.

just feels uncomfortable being the only one eating while others are waiting. and then, presumably you'd finish eating first, you'd have to wait watching all the others eating...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It is always good to be polite, and hopefully the courtesy will be returned.

I wonder if the starving people in Ethiopia, Sudan, and other places worry like this. But then again in such poor countries, I would not be surprised if a hungry person gives food to someone even more hungry, although it is probably not the norm. That would surely be a scene that should warm any person's heart.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Mixed reviews. Depends upon every single individual and also, food. The topic is not interesting, it's a waste of time and makes people mentally ill if people start to compete each other over the useless never ending debate.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Good service staff will bring out the entrees at around the same time, and will time the courses, from appetizers to dessert and coffee. Japanese waiters are generally not so good at doing this kind of thing.

Japanese/Asian dining is about bringing out dishes as soon as they're ready. As a result, I burn the inside of my mouth from time to time in Japan and Asia, whereas back home that hardly ever happened. One friend received a sundae... and then later his burger at a family restaurant in Japan. LOL.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I wonder what the survey statistics would be if the suggested a few different scenarios, 1: like with your boss, and his wife, 2: new girlfriend/boyfriend, 3: general friends outing. would any of the politeness change?

1 ( +2 / -1 )


0 ( +1 / -1 )

A good restaurant will deliver everyone's food at about the same time.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

If the food is hot, then it is not rude. Restaurants should get their act together and serve dishes at the same time, like in Europe.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Almost every response here sounds like you all go to high end tux and wedding garment places that must cost a fortune. Everyplace I go to, and there are probably a common hundred, serve the food as they prepare it and I have never seen anybody snarl at someone for eating, tasting and sharing.

Where do you people eat? Four Seasons? The Hilton?

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

And a good habit no matter where you park yourself to eat, tell the waiter or owner you need to use the toilet first and will order after you get back...so you can check out if there is soap, hot water, and paper towels or sanitizer....if you do not like it, leave.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )


But it is also good manners for others to suggest you start without them lest your food goes cold. Good manners is a two way street.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@JeffLee You are right, but the cook calling the wheel has everything to do with bringing an entire table's order to near simultaneous completion. I had three servers running continuously for a banquet off the menu for fifty. It was one time that a plan worked out.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Where do you people eat? Four Seasons? The Hilton?

In Japan, if you want the courses served at the right time, then that's where you have to go, or to a foreign chain like Hard Rock or high-end western restaurant.

the cook calling the wheel has everything to do with bringing an entire table's order to near simultaneous completion

Where I come from, the counters where the kitchen staff put completed dishes to be picked up by the waiters have heating bulbs, enabling the timing of a table's course. Japan and Asia customarily don't employ such a system.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Check out the facilities first and leave if they are dirty or not providing soap etc.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

In foreign countries, waiting for everyone's food to be placed in front of them at the table was a religious matter of many years ago. The people would pray together once all the food was delivered. Of course, these days, not many families pray before their meals. However, the restaurants overseas still try to bring the foods to the table at the same time.

In Japan, there is no set rules, but many Japanese people prefer to eat their meals while it is still piping hot, so fellow diners will kindly request each other to start eating instead of waiting for their own food to be delivered. I have seen in some Japanese schools where they all say "itadakimasu" together before they start eating the school lunch.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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