Sitting on the floor to dine may seem unusual to many westerners. However, it’s a common practice in some Asian countries that is slowly gaining popularity internationally. If you’re curious about sit on the floor dining, you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s a quick answer: Sitting on the floor restaurants, also called zashiki restaurants, originate from traditional Japanese culture. Diners sit on cushions or mats on the floor around short-legged tables. It provides a unique, communal dining experience.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover what sitting on the floor restaurants are, their history and cultural significance, the pros and cons, etiquette tips, and examples of popular zashiki restaurants to visit.
What Are Sit On The Floor Restaurants?
Sit on the floor restaurants, also known as floor-seating restaurants or traditional-style dining establishments, are unique dining venues that offer customers the experience of sitting and eating on the floor instead of traditional chairs and tables.
This form of dining can be traced back to ancient cultures and is still cherished in many parts of the world today.
Definition and Overview
Sit on the floor restaurants provide an alternative dining experience where customers can enjoy their meals in a relaxed and comfortable setting. Instead of sitting at a table, customers sit directly on the floor, typically on cushions or mats.
This style of dining encourages a more intimate and communal atmosphere, as people sit closer together and share dishes.
These restaurants often feature low tables or platforms where the food is served. Customers can choose to sit cross-legged or in a kneeling position, depending on their comfort level. The ambiance of these establishments is often enhanced with traditional decorations, such as floor cushions, low lighting, and soothing music, creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere.
Different Names Around the World
Sit on the floor restaurants go by various names depending on the region and culture. In Japan, they are called “zashiki” or “horikotatsu” restaurants. In Korea, they are known as “yuchae” or “saranbang” restaurants. In India, you may come across “dastarkhwan” or “dastarkhwan-e-awadh” restaurants.
These names reflect the cultural significance and uniqueness of this dining experience in different parts of the world.
Each country has its own distinct style and traditions associated with floor-seating dining, making it an interesting and immersive experience for both locals and tourists alike. Exploring these different names and their cultural contexts can further enrich the dining experience and provide insights into the local customs and traditions.
Distinction from Picnic-style Dining
While sitting on the floor in a restaurant may remind some of picnic-style dining, there are key distinctions between the two. Picnic-style dining typically involves eating outdoors, often on a blanket or mat, and is associated with casual and informal gatherings.
Sit on the floor restaurants, on the other hand, are indoor establishments that offer a more refined and curated dining experience.
Unlike picnic-style dining, sit on the floor restaurants often have a specific menu, with dishes carefully prepared by trained chefs. The focus is on providing a unique culinary experience paired with the comfort and ambiance of sitting on the floor.
This distinction sets sit on the floor restaurants apart and makes them a sought-after choice for those looking for a memorable and immersive dining experience.
The History and Cultural Significance of Sitting on the Floor Dining
For centuries, people around the world have enjoyed the unique experience of sitting on the floor while dining. This practice has its origins in traditional Japanese culture and has since spread to other Asian countries and gained popularity in the West.
Understanding the history and cultural significance of sitting on the floor restaurants can provide valuable insights into the dining traditions of different regions.
Origins in Traditional Japanese Culture
The tradition of sitting on the floor while dining can be traced back to ancient Japan. In Japanese culture, this style of dining is known as “zashiki,” which translates to “sitting on a tatami mat.” Tatami mats are traditional Japanese flooring made from woven straw, providing a comfortable and soft surface to sit on.
This style of dining promotes a sense of connection and intimacy among diners, as they sit close to each other and share a communal experience.
Furthermore, sitting on the floor in Japanese culture is seen as a way to show respect and humility. It is believed that sitting at eye level with others creates a sense of equality and harmony, fostering a more relaxed and enjoyable dining experience.
Spread to Other Asian Countries
Over time, the practice of sitting on the floor while dining spread to other Asian countries, including Korea, China, and India. Each country has its own unique variations and interpretations of this dining style.
In Korea, sitting on the floor is known as “soban,” and it is deeply rooted in tradition and cultural heritage. Korean cuisine, such as bibimbap and samgyeopsal, is often enjoyed while sitting on low tables or mats placed on the floor.
This style of dining not only enhances the flavors of the food but also encourages a sense of closeness and togetherness among diners.
In China, sitting on the floor while dining is commonly seen in traditional tea houses and during family gatherings. It is a way to promote a relaxed and informal atmosphere, allowing people to connect and bond over food and conversation.
In India, sitting on the floor to eat is a long-standing tradition rooted in the principles of Ayurveda, an ancient system of medicine and wellness. According to Ayurveda, sitting on the floor aids digestion and promotes mindfulness while eating.
In many Indian households, meals are enjoyed while sitting on mats or carpets, bringing family members together and fostering a sense of unity.
Growing Popularity in the West
In recent years, sitting on the floor restaurants have gained popularity in the West, with many establishments offering this unique dining experience. This trend can be attributed to several factors, including the increasing interest in different cultural dining traditions and the desire for a more casual and relaxed dining atmosphere.
Some people find sitting on the floor to be a refreshing change from traditional dining settings, as it allows them to reconnect with their primal instincts and experience food in a new way. Additionally, sitting on the floor can promote better posture and flexibility, which can be beneficial for those who spend long hours sitting at desks or in chairs.
Whether you choose to embrace sitting on the floor dining for its cultural significance or simply for the enjoyment of a unique experience, it is clear that this tradition has a rich history and continues to captivate diners around the world.
The Pros and Cons of Sitting on the Floor Dining
Pros: Unique Experience, Community, Health Benefits
One of the main advantages of sitting on the floor at a restaurant is the unique experience it offers. It allows patrons to immerse themselves in a different dining culture and try something new. Sitting on the floor can create a cozy and intimate atmosphere, making the dining experience more memorable and enjoyable.
Another benefit of floor dining is the sense of community it fosters. When sitting on the floor, people are often seated in close proximity to one another, which encourages interaction and conversation.
This can lead to making new friends or engaging in interesting conversations with fellow diners, enhancing the overall social experience.
Additionally, sitting on the floor can have health benefits. It promotes good posture and can help improve flexibility and mobility. It may also encourage mindful eating, as sitting on the floor can make people more aware of their bodies and how they are consuming their food.
Some studies suggest that sitting on the floor while eating can even aid digestion.
Cons: Difficulty Sitting, Lack of Back Support, Hindered Service
Despite its advantages, sitting on the floor for an extended period of time can pose some challenges. One of the main drawbacks is the difficulty some people may have in sitting on the floor for prolonged periods.
It can be uncomfortable for those who are not accustomed to it or have physical limitations, such as knee or back problems.
Another downside is the lack of back support. Traditional floor seating typically does not provide chairs or backrests, which can lead to discomfort or even back pain for some individuals. This can detract from the overall dining experience and may make it less enjoyable for those who prefer more support while sitting.
Lastly, sitting on the floor can sometimes hinder service. It may be more challenging for waitstaff to navigate around customers seated on the floor, especially in crowded or small spaces. This can result in slower service or difficulty in accessing certain areas of the restaurant.
Etiquette Tips for Sit On The Floor Restaurants
How to Sit Properly
When dining at a sit on the floor restaurant, it is important to know how to sit properly to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. One of the key aspects of sitting on the floor is maintaining good posture. Sit with your back straight and your legs crossed comfortably.
Avoid slouching or leaning too far back, as this can be disrespectful to the restaurant staff and other diners.
Additionally, it is important to be mindful of your surroundings when sitting on the floor. Make sure to leave enough space between yourself and other diners to avoid overcrowding and provide everyone with enough room to move comfortably.
If you are unsure of how much space to leave, observe the other diners and follow their lead.
While sit on the floor restaurants often have a more relaxed dress code compared to traditional dining establishments, it is still important to dress appropriately. Opt for comfortable clothing that allows you to sit on the floor without any restrictions.
Avoid wearing tight or restrictive clothing that may make it difficult to sit comfortably for an extended period of time.
It is also worth noting that some sit on the floor restaurants may require guests to remove their shoes before entering the dining area. Make sure to check the restaurant’s policy beforehand and come prepared with clean and presentable socks or footwear that can easily be removed if necessary.
When dining at a sit on the floor restaurant, it is important to be mindful of your manners and respect the cultural traditions associated with this style of dining. Avoid pointing your feet towards other diners or the food, as this is considered impolite in many cultures.
Furthermore, be aware of your volume when speaking. While it is natural to engage in conversation during a meal, try to keep your voice at a moderate level to avoid disturbing other diners. Additionally, be considerate of those around you and avoid using your cell phone excessively or engaging in disruptive behavior.
Remember, the goal of dining at a sit on the floor restaurant is to enjoy the unique experience and immerse yourself in the culture. By following these etiquette tips, you can ensure a pleasant and respectful dining experience for yourself and those around you.
Popular Sit On The Floor Restaurants Around the World
Asia: Seryna in Tokyo, Li Li Su in Beijing
Asia is known for its diverse and vibrant food culture, and sitting on the floor while enjoying a meal is a cherished tradition in many countries. Two popular sit on the floor restaurants in Asia are Seryna in Tokyo, Japan, and Li Li Su in Beijing, China.
Seryna, located in the heart of Tokyo, offers an authentic Japanese dining experience where guests can sit on comfortable cushions and enjoy a variety of traditional dishes. From sashimi to tempura, the menu at Seryna is carefully curated to showcase the best of Japanese cuisine.
The warm and welcoming atmosphere, combined with the meticulous attention to detail, makes Seryna a must-visit for food enthusiasts.
Li Li Su, situated in the bustling city of Beijing, brings the flavors of China to life through its sit on the floor dining concept. The restaurant offers a range of mouthwatering dishes, including Peking duck, dim sum, and hotpot.
With its elegant decor and attentive service, Li Li Su provides a memorable dining experience for both locals and tourists alike.
USA: Zazen in San Francisco, Sakaya Kitchen in Miami
While sitting on the floor may not be as common in the United States, there are a few noteworthy sit on the floor restaurants that have gained popularity. Zazen in San Francisco and Sakaya Kitchen in Miami are two such establishments.
Zazen, located in the heart of San Francisco, offers a unique dining experience where guests can sit on cushions and enjoy a fusion of Japanese and Californian cuisine. The menu at Zazen features a creative blend of flavors and ingredients, showcasing the culinary expertise of the chefs.
The serene ambiance and impeccable service add to the overall charm of this one-of-a-kind restaurant.
Sakaya Kitchen, situated in Miami, brings a touch of Asian flair to the city’s dining scene. Known for its bold flavors and innovative dishes, Sakaya Kitchen offers a sit on the floor experience that is both comfortable and enjoyable.
From Korean BBQ to Asian-inspired tacos, the menu at Sakaya Kitchen caters to a wide range of tastes.
UK: Sakura in London, Ten Ten Tei in Manchester
The United Kingdom is home to a diverse array of restaurants, and the sit on the floor concept has also made its way to this part of the world. Sakura in London and Ten Ten Tei in Manchester are two popular sit on the floor restaurants in the UK.
Sakura, located in the heart of London, offers an immersive dining experience where guests can sit on traditional Japanese zabuton cushions. The restaurant boasts a menu that showcases the finest ingredients and flavors from Japan.
From sushi and sashimi to teppanyaki, Sakura offers a wide range of options for diners to enjoy.
Ten Ten Tei, situated in the vibrant city of Manchester, brings a taste of Japan to the UK. With its cozy and intimate setting, Ten Ten Tei provides a relaxing and enjoyable dining experience. The menu features a variety of authentic Japanese dishes, including ramen, udon, and sushi.
The friendly staff and warm atmosphere make Ten Ten Tei a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
Sitting on the floor for a meal may seem uncommon in western cultures, but it provides a unique, communal dining experience. With its roots in ancient Asian tradition, zashiki style restaurants are gaining popularity across the world.
By learning the history, etiquette tips, and trying popular venues, you can appreciate this distinctive way of dining. So next time you come across a sit on the floor restaurant, give it a try for a memorable culinary adventure.