Back to Departments
Meats and Tofu
Ready to Eat
Noodles, Rice, Grains
Snacks & Sweets
Home & Kitchen
Gifts & Merch
Valentine's Day Gifts
Lunar New Year
Friends of Umamicart
Weekly Deals (up to 50% OFF!)
Buy More & Save
DIY Hot Pot Party
Braised Pork Belly & Eggs
Golden Coconut Curry Soup
The Phams' Vietnamese Sticky Rice
If you didn’t grow up in a household that didn’t have a single pair of chopsticks in the silverware drawer, you might just be learning how to use these eating utensils for the first time. Whether wooden chopsticks or plastic chopsticks, the grip is the same and fairly easy to grasp when you get the hang of it.
So, let’s dive into a few tips and tricks to perfecting a good grip while maintaining chopstick etiquette so you’re ready to enjoy your future Asian dishes traditionally.
We are bringing you all things chopstick, specifically: how to use them, and how NOT to use them.
To start — did you know that there are three types of chopsticks?
Now let’s get into holding them.
There might be a few ways to be successful with chopsticks, but we like to work smarter not harder. So here’s a step-by-step guide to holding your chopsticks and food.
Disposable chopsticks come as one piece of wood. You have to break them apart to use them. It might seem like it would be easier to keep them together, but really, it would make it near impossible to use them. Kids often use chopsticks that are tied together with a rubber band while they’re learning. If you need a little extra help, this is one trick you can use!
You want to use your dominant hand because these fingers are used to holding a writing utensil, which uses a very similar grip. It might not be exactly the same, but you’ll need the dexterity these fingers offer. Hold the first (or bottom chopstick) against the dip in your hand between the thumb and first finger. Rest it against your side of your ring finger and keep it sturdy.
The second chopstick will need to rest against the side of your middle finger. You control it, however, with the movements of your thumb and pointer finger. Your ring finger steadies the top top chopstick and allows it to move up and down to pick up food.
Pressure is what makes your chopsticks move. Being able to apply and release pressure on the top chopstick is half the battle. Your hand will have to get used to the strength it takes to apply the right pressure to hold chopsticks.
Imagine when you’re eating sushi. If you try to pick up a gorgeous piece of sashimi or a slice of a roll, the pressure is key. Too little, it falls out of your grip. Put too much pressure and your roll or sashimi will be squished and make a mess!
Practice makes perfect, and that rings true with using chopsticks. The movements will become second nature with practice. Your dominant hand is prepped and ready for this — you just need to tap into the skill. Just like most skills, finesse takes repetition.
Now that you’ve mastered the movements, it’s time to eat! Start slow — dumplings of any kind will be some of the easier items to pick up at first. With dumplings, the outside texture will be more firm and forgiving for beginners. As you get more experienced, you’ll be ready for bowls of ramen noodles. While you are learning, it’s okay to ask for a fork as backup — don’t ever feel embarrassed!
Now that we’ve explained the ways you should use your chopsticks, let’s go over what to stay away from doing. It’s important to avoid these mistakes to keep from offending anyone. Many mistakes that can be made with chopsticks have to do with deep cultural roots that are important to know and respect.
If you go out to eat and the restaurant hands you disposable chopsticks, never break them apart and rub them together. It essentially signifies that the quality of chopsticks is poor. This reflects badly on the restaurant; rubbing the chopsticks together implies that you think they buy cheap products.
Chopsticks aren’t skewers. They’re a pair, and should always be used as such. Also, never use chopsticks in separate hands to cut food like a knife. It is poor etiquette to do any of these.
In the same light, never stick your chopsticks straight up in a bowl of rice or other foods. In many Asian countries, this is done as a tribute to someone who has passed or at their funeral altar.
Never lay your chopsticks down on your plate crossed over one another. This is another symbol of funerals and will be seen as distaasteful at an Asian restaurant. When you put your chopsticks down, lay them next to each other on the table until you’re ready for them again.
You want to hold your chopsticks on the higher end. If you hold them too far down, your hands will get in the way of eating. Your index finger especially will be covered in food.
Imagine eating a bowl of pho. Spoon in one hand, chopsticks in the other. The chopsticks pick up the noodles while the spoon allows you to eat the broth. Holding the chopsticks too far down will land your hand in your bowl.
If you apply too much pressure to your chopsticks, your hand will cramp. It will become painful to hold your chopsticks and you won’t enjoy using them. It will also make it hard to control them. You won’t be able to make the fluid motions needed to pick up and hold food.
Chopsticks are a skill that our hands have the ability to master. It will take time and practice, but you can do it. We are confident our guide to holding your chopsticks the right way will make you an expert in no time.
As far as food utensils go, these take the most graceful movements to use, but they’re so worth it!
Get a Grip on How to Use Chopsticks in Japan
It's never too late to change bad chopsticks-holding habits | Japan Today
How To Use Chopsticks | Food Unfolded
Golden Coconut Curry Noodle Soup
Chef Le's Homemade Summer Rolls with Sausage
Frankie Gaw's Butternut Squash and Pork Guo-Tie
Vegetarian Clay Pot Rice
Chef Pradachith's Lao Khao Soi with Phil's Finest
Stuffed Salmon Pancakes with Fishwife x FBJ Smoked Salmon
Crispy Tofu with Seed + Mill Tahini Sesame Sauce
Napa Mille Feuille Nabe
Adobo Chicken Wings
Raku's Ebiten Udon with Lunar Hard Seltzer Yuzu Sauce
Luncheon Meat Musubi