This question is about cultural norms and tradition. In Asian countries, is rice intended to be eaten with chopsticks? I heard this is a western misconception, as rice is too hard to pickup with chop sticks (though in my opinion if it's sticky rice it's manageable). Is rice supposed to be eaten with a spoon in Chinese cuisines? I'm not expert, but I noticed Chinese cuisines normally have more loose rice, compared to Japanese cuisines where the rice is often wrapped in seaweed.

  • 4
    It is also a matter of what variety of rice. East Asian countries tend to use short grain rice (sometimes referred to as "sticky rice") that is easier to manage with chopsticks because the clumps don't fall apart easily. Also rice is often served in a bowl can be easily held closer to your mouth, whereas in the west we generally eat from a plate on a table. In the west long grain rice is more popular, but the grains don't stick together well.
    – user3169
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 3:47
  • Things like chicken fried rice are rather hard to eat with chopsticks.
    – Celeritas
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 6:51
  • 2
    There are a lot of Asian countries and even more cultures, and many of them don't use chopsticks at all, like the entire Indian sub-continent as one example. It's fairly common in some countries, like Sri Lanka, for people to eat with their hands, not a fork, a spoon, or chopsticks. This is a really broad question involving too many countries and cultures to give a good, detailed answer to.
    – LMAshton
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 6:35

6 Answers 6


The Chinese cultural norm is to eat rice with chopsticks. It would be very inconvenient to constantly switch back and forth between eating with chopsticks and a spoon depending upon whether you were eating rice or vegetables or meat.

To get around the loose grain problem, you can use the shovel method. You pick up your bowl and use a shoveling motion with your chopsticks to eat.

This video illustrates the shovel method as well as picking up clumps of rice.

  • 2
    Didn't know about the cultural norm, but when eating with chopsticks, I eat rice with them for exactly that reason: Too much of a hassle to switch. Switching also automatically makes the meal much more of a cognitive effort (do I want rice now...or something I can pick up with chop sticks) , instead of something enjoyed. And if you do it enough times, especially when you're hungry or with people to whom it's second nature, you will quickly grasp the mechanics, beauty, and efficiency of the shovel method :) Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 16:57
  • For what it's worth, in Korea, it is normal to switch back and forth between a spoon for rice and chopsticks for everything else. Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 2:34

In Japanese food, I would say you use chopsticks to eat white rice that comes in a rice bowl. Japanese rice is short/medium grained and sticks together so you can pick up clumps at a time. You also learn to pick up single grains, so as not to leave a single grain in the bowl at the end of the meal. This is good manners.

Someone mentioned the shovel method, which is also acceptable when eating rice in liquid, like ocha-zuke (rice in tea) or tamago-gohan (raw egg rice). Regarding eating a plain bowl rice, men, children and hungry people are often portrayed eating with the shovel method, but this isn't considered particularly fantastic manners outside of home, and especially not very ladylike for women ;)

There are exceptions, like when you eat curry and rice, or stir fried rice - generally rice that comes on a plate (and is therefore an introduced food) - you would a spoon, not chopsticks.

  • for the spoon case: spoons are also used for rice mixed into ramen broths and/or nabe as the texture is very much like a congee :-D
    – xuq01
    Commented Jan 12, 2020 at 19:41

In Southeast Asia, rice is not eaten with chopsticks. A fork and spoon is used for jasmine rice, and hands are used for sticky rice.

Chopsticks are only used in these countries for noodle dishes, and not always even then.


Asia is a very large place, and both cultural norms and types of rice vary widely. Here's a quick overview, but even this is painting with pretty wide brush strokes.

  • Japan and China: Rice is typically short grain, and eaten with chopsticks. Some dishes where grains separate, like fried rice, are eaten with Chinese-style short porcelain spoons.
  • Korea: Rice is typically short grain, but eaten with a long metal spoon.
  • South-East Asia: Rice is typically medium grain (jasmine etc), and traditionally eaten by hand. These days, most people eat rice dishes with a spoon and fork; however, the glutinous (sticky) rice common in Laos and northern Thailand is still eaten by hand, and the Chinese diaspora maintains Chinese customs.
  • South Asia and the Middle East: Rice is typically long grain (basmati etc) and traditionally eaten by hand, although fork and spoon are increasingly common.

The norm is chopsticks. A couple of factors. As mentioned by others, if the rice is a stickier variety, it's easier to grab the clumps.

The bigger variety is how you use it. Observe some Asians eating rice. Usually the bowl is lifted to the mouth, and the chopsticks are used to push/shovel the rice, not pick it up.


Depends on the rice. Don't eat long-grain (e.g. basmati) or wild rices with chopsticks - it will be a waste of your time.

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