Does one get better service/food at a Chinese restaurant if one speaks Chinese?

I usually let my girlfriend order at a Chinese restaurant since she speaks Chinese and I don’t. Does it make a difference?

I speak Chinese and I’m white. Here in America, there’s a definite difference between the food I get if I order in English/with a group of non-Chinese people, or if I order in Chinese/with a group of Chinese people.

However… I think you are all missing the point about why the food is different. It’s not "Oh we hate non-Chinese people, let’s give them sucky food." It’s that the expectations non-Chinese people have for Chinese food are very different than the expectations Chinese people have.

For better or for worse, traditionally Westerners have liked to eat a certain set of dishes which they expect to find at every Chinese restaurant. General Tso’s Chicken and Beef with Broccoli etc. For the most part, these are inspired by Chinese dishes, but with key differences. They’re more oily and salty, with fewer spices. They don’t have ingredients that many Westerners would find disgusting, such as pig intestine or duck blood. In addition, think about this: do you expect to find the exact same dishes on the menu of every Italian or Mexican place you go to? Yet for the majority of Chinese Restaurants, people expect to see the same exact items with the same exact names.

When Chinese people go to a Chinese restaurant, they may be given a Chinese-only menu with authentic dishes, or they may simply ask the waiter what’s good that day.

Again, I must repeat that it’s not that they hate you. It’s that probably 90% of Westerners really wouldn’t like the authentic Chinese food.

If you talk to the waiter or check-out person and tell them you want authentic style, you may or may not get it. Unfortunately sometimes now people ask for authentic without actually realizing what authentic means, and then they don’t like what they get.

What my mother does (she can’t speak Chinese, but loves real Chinese food) is talk to the waiter/check-out person and tell them about her experience visiting me in Taiwan and how much she loved the food, emphasizing that she really does know what real Chinese food is like. They always give her the real thing when she does this.

On the other hand, my dad doesn’t like authentic Chinese food. He’s much happier eating his Western-style sweet and sour pork.

Even me, who loves authentic Chinese food, has a few American-Chinese food items that I love. Crab rangoon, for instance. It’s not even a little bit authentic, but it’s DELICIOUS! icon biggrin Does one get better service/food at a Chinese restaurant if one speaks Chinese?

As far as service: Have you ever been to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong etc? The service usually is not that great. On the other hand, people don’t get tipped there. That’s part of why the service is not great when the servers have just left from Asia, I think. The standard for service is much different. Now me personally, I tend to get great service at Chinese places because they think I’m cute, haha. But in general? Service won’t be any better. If you’ve noticed Chinese people seemingly getting better service at your local Chinese place, they are probably related to or friends with the people who own/work there.

11 Comments

  1. ~ethereal dragonfly~ says:

    um probably doesn’t matter..
    most chinese food places are really good regardless.
    if it means getting better service, then i would go to a different place…
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  2. Grace says:

    I’m guessing it depends on what kind of Chinese restaurant it is. if its like "hardcore" then it probably wont matter. but less professional ones might discriminate a little.
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  3. Babe_xxx says:

    I guess, i mean if you get rearry irritated when they get you order wrong, I say won ton noodrrs, you no risten…thats my chineese
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  4. matt x says:

    No If you are Chinese and go to a chinese restaurant, you get bad services. Because the workers and owner there will always think you are competion down the street, comming in to sample the food.
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  5. angelzwings20032001 says:

    Doubtful. You should get good service at any restaurant. If not find another one.
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  6. C.M. C says:

    Hey Daniel, my favorite pet hate. No it shouldn’t make a difference, one thing I do ask when I place my order is that I want it Authentic Chinese Style. I have my reasons for saying that, secondly I try and not be stuck up or arrogant with my servers. When I am doing a restaurant review, I sometimes ask the server if he has any tips on something nice out of the kitchen, that gives me one of two things, great attention to detail with service, and on occasion they bring out some extra appetizers if your a regular. Speaking of regular, I find if a server gives me good service, I don’t worry about the 15%, I will pass him a $20 or $25, HE/SHE WILL BE LOOKING FOR YOU THE NEXT TIME. I have also been known to give my server a $50 at my wife’s disgust when you spend over $170 for food alone that is a lot food without drinks..

    Chris
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  7. hanabee says:

    I have to learn Chinese and find out,lol
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  8. tonidichoso says:

    most chinese restaurants treat their non-Chinese-speaking customers as they would treat the Chinese-speaking guests
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  9. Lynn says:

    I think so.. I’m a Chinese. Once I saw a waiter taking order from the foreigner, the waiter doesn’t understand and just simply picks some dishes for him, pity.
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  10. bodhihoang says:

    Not really but if you were allergic to something then you wouldn’t be able to know or inform the chef to leave it out.
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  11. desiderata says:

    I speak Chinese and I’m white. Here in America, there’s a definite difference between the food I get if I order in English/with a group of non-Chinese people, or if I order in Chinese/with a group of Chinese people.

    However… I think you are all missing the point about why the food is different. It’s not "Oh we hate non-Chinese people, let’s give them sucky food." It’s that the expectations non-Chinese people have for Chinese food are very different than the expectations Chinese people have.

    For better or for worse, traditionally Westerners have liked to eat a certain set of dishes which they expect to find at every Chinese restaurant. General Tso’s Chicken and Beef with Broccoli etc. For the most part, these are inspired by Chinese dishes, but with key differences. They’re more oily and salty, with fewer spices. They don’t have ingredients that many Westerners would find disgusting, such as pig intestine or duck blood. In addition, think about this: do you expect to find the exact same dishes on the menu of every Italian or Mexican place you go to? Yet for the majority of Chinese restaurants, people expect to see the same exact items with the same exact names.

    When Chinese people go to a Chinese restaurant, they may be given a Chinese-only menu with authentic dishes, or they may simply ask the waiter what’s good that day.

    Again, I must repeat that it’s not that they hate you. It’s that probably 90% of Westerners really wouldn’t like the authentic Chinese food.

    If you talk to the waiter or check-out person and tell them you want authentic style, you may or may not get it. Unfortunately sometimes now people ask for authentic without actually realizing what authentic means, and then they don’t like what they get.

    What my mother does (she can’t speak Chinese, but loves real Chinese food) is talk to the waiter/check-out person and tell them about her experience visiting me in Taiwan and how much she loved the food, emphasizing that she really does know what real Chinese food is like. They always give her the real thing when she does this.

    On the other hand, my dad doesn’t like authentic Chinese food. He’s much happier eating his Western-style sweet and sour pork.

    Even me, who loves authentic Chinese food, has a few American-Chinese food items that I love. Crab rangoon, for instance. It’s not even a little bit authentic, but it’s DELICIOUS! :D

    As far as service: Have you ever been to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong etc? The service usually is not that great. On the other hand, people don’t get tipped there. That’s part of why the service is not great when the servers have just left from Asia, I think. The standard for service is much different. Now me personally, I tend to get great service at Chinese places because they think I’m cute, haha. But in general? Service won’t be any better. If you’ve noticed Chinese people seemingly getting better service at your local Chinese place, they are probably related to or friends with the people who own/work there.
    References :
    my own experience

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