Beneath this bowl of stars...

toddler activites, food, photos, and other orbital occurrences


takes longer than eating....
When you go to a restaurant in china, it is quite a different experience than in the US or most places in Europe. First off, most of the time the service is amazing. Maybe not the best in the world, but often you are assigned your own server, or several servers, or if yours is busy, anyone will happily help you. The other thing is that if you are 5 or more people, or if you agree to spend a minimum amount you get a private room. Most restaurants have several and many have entire floors full of nothing but private rooms. If you call ahead to reserve one, you arrive and are told a room number, much like checking into a hotel. You then head to the elevator and to your floor. When you get off the elevator there is usually someone there to help you find your room. Once inside the room, there is a large round table complete with lazy susan in the middle and 6-18 chairs (depending on the size of your room/table)and a service buffet furniture piece where they store lots of extra dishes and on the top shelf place extra bottles of beverages (for if/when you finish the first round... this can be water, soda, juice, beer, wine, etc). Next comes the menu. There is only one menu per room and it is nothing like any menu you will ever see in the US (unless at a fancy chinese restaurant). It is a huge book (think wedding album or larger). Inside are pages and pages of photos and descriptions of food. One or two people usually take on the responsibility of ordering and while everyone else gets settled and starts drinking and talking, the orderer(s) start making selections. Since the menu is so large, not only does looking through it take a long time, but deciding how many dishes to order and which dishes to order can end up taking longer than it takes to eat most of the food. Typically cold starters are ordered first and arrive before the ordering is complete (this also gives the rest of the party something to do while the order is being placed). The server stands at the side of the orderer often with a large clip board making notes and answering questions. Food is always ordered and eaten communal style so there can easily be 15+ dishes for 6 people (some of the dishes are much smaller than others). Ok, since this post was supposed to be about ordering I will stop now and describe the rest of the meal another time. (oh one more thing... since i was sitting next to Dave who was ordering, I got to give my input for the order. I asked that if we were having the shanghai crabs if we could have them out of the shell):

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