East or West – Which is Best? You Decide.

chinee food

So. I’m in Beijing on business.

We’re in a training that includes:
– 5 people from Japan
– 14 from Singapore
– 1 from India
– and 14 Chinese.

All the trainers are from Europe.

The organizer of the session is from the Phillipines. He selected a restaurant for our group dinner. It is a very nice Western steakhouse.

Some members of the group are questioning this. Some think that since we are in China, the group dinner should be held at a typical Chinese restaurant. Others feel that his intent is to cater to the Westerners in the group and give everyone a treat by choosing a nice (read expensive) restaurant that they might not otherwise go to.

There is no right or wrong answer, but I’m curious: which do you think would have been the better choice?

21 responses to “East or West – Which is Best? You Decide.

  1. In my opinion, it’s imperative that you solely induldge in whatever country’s cuisine you’re visiting (unless you’re going to be there for an extended period of time or unless you make regular visits there).

  2. while traveling I taste cuisine of that country, but personally my number 1 food is Asian: mostly chinese, some korean, not really into japanese – not that heavy, suits my taste really well and depends where you go you can get either super spicy or based on buns and noodles or shanghainese cuisine is one of the sweetest, probably only region that adds sugar to gai lan 🙂

    • I like to taste the local food, too, and have had some wonderful Chinese food so far. I’m looking forward to more. One of the Chinese men in our group was explaining the differences in regional cuisine to me. He said much of what you just said. I love the spicy sichuan foods, but think I’ll try to sample some cantonese and shanghainese food, too, if I can.

  3. My vote is for the Chinese restaurant as well – but I also think that as the decision has already been made, I would feel uncomfortable making a suggestion to change it as I wouldn’t want to make the organizer feel disrespected – I’m sure he was just trying to make everyone happy.

    • Yes. I would have felt uncomfortable questioning his decision, too. Without any judgment, I will share that the two people questioning the decision were two very outspoken trainers from Germany.

  4. This debate is all too familiar to me. When I was still in Taiwan, I often didn’t know where to take my friends who visited because on the one hand, Western food is something they can get easily. But on the other, not everyone can adapt so easily to traditional foods. I voted for Chinese just because you all are/were there for such a short amount of time and it would be a shame not to sample some but I can also understand the organizer wanting to please everyone.

  5. Tough call all right, and no right or wrong answer. The Chinese members of your party might have loved going Western for a change, while those who weren’t Chinese probably would prefer to try the local cuisine. I’ve had the opposite dilemma, with visiting Chinese in a Western country…do they prefer a steak or other Western food, or would they rather go to a (Westernised) Chinese restaurant for familiar food? In your poll, I voted for Chinese!

    • Luckily, I think either choice would have resulted in good food. But it was thought-provoking, and made me think about where I’d take foreign visitors visiting my hometown. Luckily, Cincinnati has some very local flavors, so I usually start there.

  6. The poll was skewed by the scrumptious pic Julie 🙂 Interesting, but I believe most visitors to a foreign country would expect/prefer to eat the food of the region.

  7. I reckon it’s definitely better to eat locally and learn more about the culture. It frustrates the life out of me when my family visit here from the UK and their first priority is to find a pub that serves steak!

  8. Hi Juliann,
    This sounds like an incredible experience! BTW, I would always choose Asian over Western cuisine, but since I don’t eat red meat it was a no brainer. Very fun post. I hope the meeting goes well, and you have a safe journey home.

  9. Juliann, I spent three months in Beijing on business some years ago. I was part of a negotiating team that was attempting to gain drilling rights in China from the Central Government. We grew to know the Chinese side very well, and the Chinese would hold big banquets every couple of weeks. The food, was mostly good, normal Chinese stuff … and lots and lots of delicacies. And this is where the problems started. To avoid offending anyone, I pretty much ate anything they put on my plate. I’m sure you’ve heard of these types of things, but eating fish stomach, sea slugs, etc takes some fortitude. Looking back, it was one of the best experiences of my career, but honestly, I really don’t miss the banquets. BTW, enjoy your stay. ~James

    • You make a very good point. I’m still trying to figure out what “Pineapple goo old meat” was. It was just one of the mysteries on the menues there. I think if we’d had Chinese food, it would have had to be the tamer stuff: beef and chicken. So perhaps it was just as well we did steak.

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