Embedded in Asian table manners is chopstick etiquette. Slight etiquette differences exist between countries but in general there are some obvious and not-so-obvious behaviors to avoid:
1. It’s considered rude to use your chopstick for anything other than eating. That means no pointing or holding people up with your utensil. Though tempting, avoid rapping them on your plate like drumsticks, waving them in the air like a conductor would, or pretending they are antennae, rabbit ears, etc. What is okay to do is to use them like a knife to cross and cut food into small portions.
2. Spearing your food. Always keep your chopsticks together and no stabbing your food because a chopstick is not a kabob skewer.
3. Using your chopsticks to push around dishes on the table or holding your chopsticks in your mouth with no hands, such as when passing a dish.
4. Crossing chopsticks on your plate or your bowl. In Korea, it is considered a bad sign if chopsticks are left in a V-shape. Laying chopsticks across the rim of your bowl in a parallel is a thumbs up and shows you are cultured.
5. Stabbing them inside your bowl so they stick up vertically. This is probably the biggest faux pas. The upward sticks resemble the incense sticks that many Asian people present as offerings to deceased ancestors. This gesture can be associated with death.
If you are having difficulty using the chopsticks, it’s okay to ask for a fork instead. Rice, unless it’s sticky rice, can take ions to eat with chopsticks. Happy Chopsticking!