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Etiquette: 5 Tips to Fully Savour Your Indonesian Dinner


Just like any cuisine, Indonesian dining comes using its own traditions and practices. While they’re not necessarily practiced in restaurants particularly those based in other countries such as Singapore, it’s worth learning how Indonesian locals follow dining etiquette. It’s not only because you are preparing to consume in a geniune Indonesian restaurant, but more about observing the country’s unique way of celebrating life through food.

Indonesian dining is often more reserved compared to that of other countries. That is due to the mix of cultures in the country. So yes, etiquette proves to be a very important aspect of dining; it not saves you a lot of embarrassment, but more importantly you feel fulfilled with your dining experience.

There are 5 items to remember when eating Indonesian food in Singapore restaurants, and they are:

1. Spoon and fork only.

In Indonesia, food is served with a couple of utensils: spoon and fork. This pair of utensils is all that suffice in a dinner setting, even yet in formal restaurants. You can find even restaurants that do not make use of these utensils since they are certainly not element of Indonesian dining and have only been adapted during the modern times.

May very well not find a blade available, and meat is cut by means of the spoon and fork. Also, food is eaten utilising the spoon and only, and picking right up the food should be done with the right hand. That is due to the Muslim tradition of eating only with the best hand, that is regarded to function as the clean hand.

2. Eat with the hands.

You might find it archaic but yes, it’s element of Indonesian dining tradition to consume with the hands. That is even regarded to be sacred, as eating is really a divine celebration of life and bountiful harvest. In most restaurants, tables feature a ceramic basin of water, and that is where you’ll wash both hands before and after eating.

Sometimes, the basin of water is served individually, thus you can use one bowl of water for yourself. In bigger restaurants however, such as the ones that tend to be for family diners, there’s only one basin shared by everyone seated on the table.

3. The elders take the initial serving.

Another important practice in Indonesian dining is who should take the initial bite. In most restaurants and diners, the oldest members of the group is going to be given the priority for food serving, and it’s only after they’re done taking their share that you can begin picking your food.

There’s also instances when the most revered person in the group is the main one who might take the initial serving during dinner. That is observed when you are dining with nobility, or in today’s times, people who have high ranks in the society (such as your boss or very important guests).

4. Who pays the bill?

When eating Indonesian food in Singapore restaurants, it is important to notice regarding who pays the bill. Usually the person who invited you for lunch would shoulder the expenses, but in addition it is customary to go Dutch, especially if you have all agreed to share the expenses of the dinner.

5. Tipping.

Unlike in Western countries, tipping is not practiced in Indonesia. You might find it odd, it’s not common practice to pay the servers extra. However, if the restaurant already features newer and Western manners of serving and accommodating guests, then tipping can still be performed (but not required).

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