Hey Sasha, I'm pretty much a stereotypical Chinese person with a close group of stereotypical Chinese friends.  However, one stereotype that I very much want to stay away from is the cheapness when it comes to tipping at restaurants. I have a couple of friends who insist that the appropriate amount to tip a server is 10% before tax. While this is acceptable (and even expected) at a Chinese restaurant since the tips are pooled and divided amongst the staff, it becomes a bit uncomfortable when our friends bring this up at a "Western" restaurant. I'm fine with them tipping whatever amount they wish when our bills are separated, but the issue comes up when we occasionally all pay on one bill. We'll be fine with "upping our standards" to a whopping 15% but the debate comes with whether the percentage is applied before or after tax. Most of my friends and I are of the belief that it should be after tax since that's how it's traditionally done. However, we would be questioned as to why we should tip on tax (I understand the logic in that but...come on!). We've tried to state that the servers need to make a living and rely on tips when it comes to non-Asian restaurants but it doesn't seem to resonate.

How should we handle this? We all love going out together and I wouldn't want our outings to end up in bitterness each time we get together. Much appreciated, L


Maybe fresh-off-the-boaters are considered cheap because they haven’t acclimatized to the “rules” of Westernized tipping yet, but I wouldn’t say that Chinese people on a whole are cheap tippers. I mean, my dad is as Great Wall of China as it gets, but when we go to a “western” restaurant he knows the deal.

So, I really feel like this has less to do with your friends' ethnicity and more to do with the fact that you’re just rolling with some serious penny pinchers.  There’s nothing tackier for me than watching people fight over how to pay a bill.  I mean, if you’re over the age of 25, and you’ve made a decision to go eat in public, then just split that sh-t equally and call it a muther f-cking day. 

Obviously though, your friends haven’t grasped this, so L, I think the easiest way to solve the problem is to get separate bills.  It’s not ideal, but this way you’re able to leave what you want and there’s no yelling at the table.  Because if we know one thing about our people it's that we're loud talkers. 

Oh and by the way, these days you should really consider leaving more like 20%.

Thanks for writing in and keep your questions coming my way at [email protected]