How not to embarrass yourself at the Chinese lauriat 2
From the 10-course lauriat at Man Ho, Manila Marriott Hotel. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra
Food & Drink

How not to embarrass yourself at the Chinese lauriat

Tips and etiquette for the lauriat virgin.
ANCX Staff | Feb 14 2021

Lauriats are special occasion feasts for the Chinese. For those attending their first lauriat, it can be a bit overwhelming—when it comes to the amount of food served, and how you’re supposed to behave on the table. Are there codes you should follow? Well, it always pays to come informed. 

According to Bahay Tsinoy, the Intramuros museum that documents the contributions of the ethnic Chinese to Philippine culture, Tsinoy parties are often eight-course lauriat meals. But one need not be intimidated. “It is not as difficult as it seems, because the dishes are portioned to the number of people at the table.” 

The group’s Facebook page lists down what you need to know to navigate the lauriat table like a pro. 

1 Drink only water.

2 You can ask the server to only put half a serving of soup.

3 Rice comes out toward the end. If you “did not enjoy” the meal, you eat rice to go home satiated. P.S. To be safe, wear garterized bottoms to make room. P.P.S. If you are vegetarian or vegan, fill up before going to the party. 

4 You are always welcome not to get anything. 

5 There are rarely purely vegetarian / vegan dishes at lauriats.


Below is a list of lauriat etiquette the Chinese banquet beginner will find very useful—so he or she doesn’t embarrass himself or herself in this gathering. 


Lauriat etiquette 1 

Swerve the lazy Susan away from you just after the server places the dish in front of you. Avoid taking the first serving. Instead, turn the lazy Susan toward the oldest person in the group or the youngest child. You will also notice that if the server puts the dish in front of older people, they will swerve it toward the youngest at the table.


Lauriat etiquette 2

If someone swerves the lazy Susan toward you and tells you to get food first, do so but get one scoop and serve the people on both sides of you before getting for yourself.


Lauriat etiquette 3 

Do not ask the server to wrap things up for taking home, unless it was already offered by the host.


Lauriat etiquette 4

When fish is served, get from the top, scrape meat off the bones. Do not flip the fish. Cut tail off, lift the bones with a fork and scrape the flesh off. If you really have to turn it over, ask permission from your tablemates. They might be about to go on a journey, so they won't want the fish to be turned over as something bad might happen on their journey (like overturning of a boat or plane).


Lauriat etiquette 5

If you are vegan or vegetarian, your options are dependent on how well you know the host.

• Inform the host about it if you are very close AKA if you’re relatives or friends (should be more like reminding now because they'd already know, right?)

• Ask the host if there is "chay toh" (vegetarian table)—if it is an organization, and you are comfortable asking for a favor. Even if there is none, the host will have the restaurant prep a veg meal for you.

• If you are not willing (too dyahe) to ask the host, either bring your own food, fill up before going, or take the risk that the host did not prepare vegetarian/vegan food. (If the event is at a hotel, there are higher chances the waiter can give you a vegetarian plate without bothering the host).


Lauriat etiquette 6

Never stick your chopsticks into anything. Always put it flat on your plate or on the chopsticks stand provided. Sticking chopsticks into food is only done for food offerings to the dead.


Lauriat etiquette 7

Get only one scoop or piece of anything. Get extra only after you have tasted the other dishes and no one else is getting them.

These useful tips and historical features on the Tsinoy experience are what followers of Bahay Tsinoy on Facebook can expect from the page. According to Museum Director Meah Ang See, the museum’s social media presence only really began during the pandemic. Book author and agri-editor Yvette Tan, a longtime member of Bahay Tsinoy, helps out in content and social media strat. The group is now nearly 10,000 followers strong. It hopes to keep the Bahay Tsinoy museum alive in the minds of people as the building continues to undergo renovation and await its reopening sometime at the end of the year. 

Follow Bahay Tsinoy on Facebook by clicking here.