Manners & Misdemeanors

Table Etiquette to Follow at Spanish, Japanese, and Italian Restaurants

Master the dos and don'ts of different cultures.
Table Etiquette to Follow at Spanish, Japanese, and Italian Restaurants

A country’s cuisine is an extension of its culture, so it follows that appreciating its food means dining with the same traditions and etiquette. It’s also more enjoyable to have a meal that follows other customs, which is, of course, one of the points of dining out.

The next time you find yourself spending a night at a Spanish, Japanese, or Italian restaurant, you may want to keep the following customs in mind:


Chit-chat is mandatory.

For the Spanish, meals are social events, and as such, should be lively with as much conversation as possible. In fact, whenever a sudden silence falls over the table, it’s not uncommon for someone to say that an angel must have passed over them—a superstition or practice that carried over to many Filipino families.

Never bring up business.

While conversation is encouraged, talking to arrive at a business decision is considered inappropriate. It runs the risk of raising tensions and ruining a perfectly good meal.

White lies are perfectly polite.

It’s considered bad form to refuse food that you’ve been served. But if you must, to make sure that the host or the chef isn’t offended, the proper thing to do is to say you’ve already eaten or that you’re stuffed, even if you’re not.


Slurp your soup.

While the thought of slurping liquids at the dinner table is dreadful to some, the Japanese treat their soup as wine aficionados treat their vinothey slurp to help aerate the broth and add to the flavor.

Avoid adding wasabi.

At proper sushi restaurants, the items that pair well with wasabi will already be made with it. But if you must add an extra kick to the dish, brush only a small amount onto the fish to avoid offending the chef.

Never pour your own drink.

Japanese table manners are built around the idea of respect, and one common way to show it is by pouring someone else’s beverage for him. Pouring your own drink prevents others from showing you the same courtesy you show them.


Scrimp on the condiments.

The Italians are very serious about the quality of their food, so much so that the liberal use of condiments—which often overpower a dish’s flavors—can be seen as an insult to the chef. Instead, drizzle some olive oil onto your food to enhance the flavors.

Leave the sodas for a snack.

Many Italians believe that sugary drinks like fruit juices and sodas tend to mask the taste of carefully chosen and prepped ingredients. Wine and water are the preferred beverages during mealtime.

Keep your hands visible.

If you aren’t holding any utensils, rest your hands on the table. In the Italians’ colorful imagination, hands on the lap could mean one is doing…unsavory things.

Now that you’re brushed up on each culture’s etiquette, why not apply it to better enjoy the cuisine itself? Paying with your Visa card gives you even more reasons to do so, with special privileges at some of the country’s finest restaurants through Visa Epic Experiences.

You can get 20 percent off on Spanish fare at Enye by Chele Gonzalez at Crimson Resort & Spa in Mactan, Cebu; or dine for four, pay for three on the dinner tasting menu at Flame at Discovery Primea.

Visa Platinum, Visa Signature, and Visa Infinite cardholders can enjoy a complimentary glass of house wine to pair with the Japanese-European cuisine of Epilogue at S Maison in Conrad Manila or with the farm-to-table Mediterranean dishes at Taza Fresh Table in Tagaytay. With benefits at luxury restaurants like Antonio’s and Chef Jessie, Visa might just be your best dining partner. As always, drink responsibly.

For more information, visit and follow Visa on Facebook.

Promo runs from March 16, 2018 to March 15, 2019. Per DTI-FTEB Permit No. 2745 Series of 2018. Per DTI-FTEB Permit No. 4107 Series of 2018.

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This article was created by Summit Storylabs in partnership with Visa.