This is a classic case of how cultural and social customs in one society can be very annoying in others.
Chinese food is one of my favorite cuisines. However being a food snob that I am I only eat chinese in Chinatown or at some really nice places.Take-out chinese is an absolute no no. And one of my favorite places especially for late night meals is the Great New York Noodle Town on Bowery, south of Canal.
I mostly land up there late at night on my way back from work, and love their soups. However going into a restaurant alone can have its flipside. And that is sharing a round table with other people. And invariably when I land up at one of these round tables, I regret sitting there sooner than later. This restaurant is very popular with chinese customers too, and that for me is a sure sign of the authenticity of food.
However I have noticed that nearly every Chinese person I share the table with slurps while eating their food. The annoying noise while eating is something that really puts me off. I understand that this is probably OK socially in Chinese culture, but to me its really bad table manners. Why would one make such a noise while eating? It has nothing to do with eating with chopsticks or eating a certain kind of dish. I eat the same thing as the guy next to me, but I never slurp.
Last night was the worst ever. The guy sitting next to me was slurping so loud, that the first time he did it, I thought he was snorting ! Of course it goes without saying that I left my meal halfway and paid up and walked out.
As a rule, the next time around, if I don’t get to sit at a table by myself, I will skip the restaurant that time.
I wonder what others think of this. I can understand that if this was happening in China, then I have no basis to be cribbing about this. But then this is New York. How would it feel if after a great meal I passed gas with a loud noise to show contentment of the meal devoured. I could always take umbrage under the guise that in my culture, this is allowed. Who is to question me?
In such situation I firmly believe in following the “….in rome do as romans do….” and hence in New York eat the way NYers do, even if you are eating Chinese food.
As an aside, the food at this restaurant is awesome. Its also one of the few places that is open at 4 am and serves hot, great tasting food. Their chicken and chinese sausage casseroles, salt baked shrimp, roast duck, and pork cheek and tripe are fantastic; and their soft-shell crabs are to die for.