Dining out habits.
Recently my student - a retired gentleman - went into Starbucks with his wife for coffee. He says he doesn't often go because he doesn't like self-service etc.
Sitting near them at a 2-person table was a foreign man using a computer.
After a while, a Japanese woman came and sat down at the foreigner's table with her coffee. They didn't talk to each other and apparently were strangers.
My student says he was surprised: that strangers could share a table like that and not talk at all. He felt he could never do that...
Starbucks certainly has this coffee shop culture - strangers share a table, single customers use space for pairs or more. I've done it myself. I don't see any reason why I should sit on a hard chair at a counter just because I am a solo-customer, if I want to sit on a comfortable armchair I will - after all - I AM paying a lot of money for coffee!!!
But this made me think about the other Dining Out customs which can seem strange at first.
When I first came to Japan I was very nervous about calling out my order in a revolving sushi bar ( I once shouted out "meguro" instead of "maguro"!!), and sitting at a counter in an izakiya talking to the staff while I eat. In England I can't think of a situation where you shout out your order or chat to the cook.
But in English pubs we have the system where you go and stand at the bar to order your drinks and then you carry the glasses to a table yourself! That is very strange for some foreign visitors.
How about you? Have you been surprised by the ordering or dining style of a cafe or restaurant?