How to call a waiter in different countries in Asia

Have you ever witnessed tourists being unconsciously rude to the waiters in your home country? Or the other way around – have you ever unintentionally offended a waiter, just because you didn’t know the proper restaurant etiquette when you are on a holiday? Either way, you’re probably wondering if there is a way to avoid all those embarrassing misunderstandings. Fortunately, there is! Today we are going over the topic on how to call waiters in Asian countries.

Calling a server in a Japanese restaurant

Europeans might consider it rude to raise their voices in restaurants but in Japan, this is completely normal – even preferable to do so if you want to be noticed by Japanese waiters. The way it all goes is pretty easy. When you enter the place of choice you need to call out “sumimasen” in a moderately loud voice. The server will come to you and lead you and your company to your place. If you need anything and the waiter is nowhere near you, you just need to get their attention by calling them.
What is interesting is that unlike other waiters in Asian countries, the Japanese wouldn’t ask for a tip. In fact, it is uncommon to leave a tip in Japan, as it is just not part of their traditions. This, however, doesn’t affect the service in any way.

Getting noticed in restaurants in Korea

When you enter a Korean restaurant, a common thing to do is to call out a nice and loud “jeogiyo” (저기요 which means excuse me or I am here). The waiter will show you your table but mostly they won’t be waiting around for you to order. Korean eateries are usually quite busy and waiters are often juggling between a lot of different work. If you want to order your food, you should look around for them. Don’t be afraid and really make yourself noticeable. You can loudly say “excuse me” or make a visible gesture by waving your hand. A friendly and acceptable way to address the waitress is to say eonni (언니 – older sister) or emo (이모 – aunt) while waiters don’t really mind calling them however you feel suitable.

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Going the quiet way in Chinese eateries

How to call a waiter in different countries in AsiaUnlike other Asian countries, calling your attendant in China is done in a quiet and respectful way. If you need to summon your waiter, you need to make a gesture with your hand, a gentle wave.

All Chinese textbooks teach foreigners to call their waitresses by saying xiaojie (小姐), which technically means “miss” but we wouldn’t advise you to do so. In China, this phrase is also a slang word for “prostitute” and this can make the situation quite embarrassing. A word you can use, however, is fú wù yuan (服务员), which literally translates to “waiter”.

Don’t get bothered by the attention in Vietnam

Getting the waiter’s attention in Vietnam is never a big deal because they would be by your side all the while you’re looking at the menu until you make the decision. But no pressure, they understand and they don’t mind.

After finishing your food you can stay as long as you feel like, as nobody will bother you with bringing the bill without you asking for it first. As for the tips – no need to feel guilty, Vietnamese don’t expect any. But they wouldn’t refuse it either.

As you can see, Asian restaurant etiquette is quite different in different places. It is very important to know how to properly call waiters in Asian countries as it might affect your food experience. However, you don’t need to worry about small mistakes. All you need is to be polite and everything else will go smoothly.