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Asian Dining Rules: Essential Strategies for Eating Out at Japanese, Chinese, Southeast Asian, Korean, and Indian Restaurants Paperback – October 21, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Read this book before eating at an Asian restaurant…you’ll be a step ahead” (Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto)

“With Shaw’s Dining Rules under your belt, you’ll be ordering like a regular.” (Martin Yan, cookbook author and host of the Yan Can Cook Show)

“What impresses me about Steven Shaw is not that he’s mastered Asian decorum, but that he’s mastered almost everything in the food world. Nobody should be that gifted. I’m twice his age, and I’m constantly learning from him.” (Alan Richman)

“Steven Shaw is the dining companion we all yearn for when eating unfamiliar foods in unfamiliar places: He is warm, wise, and goes out of his way to make us feel as informed (and well fed) as possible.” (James Oseland, editor-in-chief, Saveur, and author of Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore)

“As you order the shrimp fried rice and General Tso’s chicken for the eight hundredth time, you eye the guests to your left. They have, apparently, seen a secret, far superior menu. Hungry reader, they read this book.” (Phoebe Damrosch, author of Service Included)

About the Author

Steven A. Shaw, aka "The Fat Guy," is the founder of the phenomenally successful eGullet website, a James Beard Award-winning food critic, and a contributor to Saveur, Crain's New York Business, and many other publications. He lives in New York City with his wife and son.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks; Original edition (October 21, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061255599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061255595
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #791,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By New England Yankee VINE VOICE on October 22, 2008
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This little book is a very entertaining read. Part storytelling, part instructional, often very personal, every page is engaging. Steven Shaw writes in a style that is something between a columnist's approach and an essayist's. The result is a series of interesting, short segments that loosely hang together within each of the cuisine-specific chapters of the book. The closest comparison I might make to the flow is to a travel show on television.

Is the author authoritative on the topic? I can't honestly say, though I'm mostly convinced. I hedge because of issues with the advice itself - the "rules" referenced in the title - and the limited coverage. See more below on that. The book carries two Asian heavyweight endorsements on the front and back covers, though: Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Martin Yan of Yan Can Cook. So presumably the educational content is accurate.

This is a 250 page book that covers 5 major cuisines. Each cuisine chapter is, therefore, regrettably limited, especially when you toss in all the personal stories and offbeat - if interesting - segues (e.g., pairing French wines with Japanese food). And there's the rub - the book is supposed to be about "dining rules," here meaning what you need to know and how to act in order to be treated like an insider and get the good stuff. The overview-level coverage winds up coming short of the goal, in turn leading to the doubts concerning the author's authority mentioned above.

The Japanese section illustrates all the points mentioned above. The entire section is only about 50 pages long.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I assumed this would be a book about 'Asian dining rules' and I was pretty much wrong. Maybe I have a different definition of what 'rules' are, but I assumed that meant things like etiquette, what not to do, etc. I love going to eat at authentic asian restaurants and figured this book would show me how to interact with the staff properly.

In my opinion, the book seemed like it was aimed more at people who had never ate at an Asian restaurant before (who those people are, I have no idea). The advice was common sense, like if you go to a Chinese buffet, fill your plate right when it's brought out from the kitchen so that the food is fresh. And, avoid the lomein because it'll fill you up. The Japanese section of the book focused almost entirely on sushi, and frankly I think there's a lot more to Japanese cuisine than that. It's sort of like writing a book about Italian food and only talking about pizza. I had figured this book was going to tell me things like what 'itadakimasu' means, etc.

Like I said, I think this would be a good book for someone who really hasn't had much by the way of Asian food, and would like help choosing menu items. But if you already have a passion for is, you should probably pass this one up.
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Generally good for anyone who wants more from their Asian dining experience. As an outsider learning from insiders, Shaw occasionally gets his facts wrong, but he's right more often than he's wrong and his advice on how to approach Asian restaurants is good. I would recommend this book to a friend.
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I love to read and I love to eat so I REALLY enjoyed this book! It's a treasure-trove of fascinating tidbits of the history, culture, customs, and culinary traditions all throughout Asia. I recently had lunch at a local Korean restaurant and was so overwhelmed and confused that I never actually knew what I had eaten. Now I look forward to going back and trying again, with a whole new appreciation of the food and the culture. I've also often seen Chinese families eating foods that looked a LOT more delicious than what was on my plate, and couldn't figure out what part of the menu they were ordering from. Now that I'm privy to a little inside information, I'll be sure to expand my culinary horizons the next time I'm out. Thank-you!
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By RG-Three on November 1, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reading Asian Dining Rules is like spending time with a good (and funny!) friend who explains what food critics already know about how Asian restaurants really work and how to get the most out of your experience. He takes you through Guerrilla Sushi Tactics, explains "Thai spicy", and lets you in on the secret of the Two Menus in Chinese restaurants. The real stories about families who have started and run their own restaurants are great. I find myself thumbing through the book before heading out to Asian restaurants now. I would recommend the book to both novice and experienced diners.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Like author and famed foodie Steven A. Shaw, I enjoy eating at Asian restaurants A LOT. Therefore, ASIAN DINING RULES, packed as it is with useful information about the most popular Asian cuisines in North America, may well approach Biblical status with me. Whether your favorites are Japanese, Chinese, Southeast Asian, Korean or Indian, Shaw very likely knows much that you don't about your cuisine of choice. (He has the perhaps unfair advantages of living in NYC, being a culinary expert, and having lots of Asian friends, but that is beside the point.) Chapters are arranged by region, with Japanese and Chinese getting the most coverage. Indian gets the least, perhaps reflecting Shaw's order of preference, or perhaps his degree of familiarity...it's hard to tell.
Of particular interest are the descriptions of unusual dishes, for those who like to eat "outside the box", and strategies for obtaining non-menu items, as well as dishes not geared so much toward "Western" taste. The chapters include many side essays on various related topics, and these should definitely not be skipped over, as some fascinating info is to be found there. Alas, there will always be those diners whose idea of great Asian cuisine mainly consists of Pu-Pu Platters and Fried Rice, and this fine book is certainly not for them. For the rest of us, ASIAN DINING RULES is a must.
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