Dinner etiquette - who is wrong?

A friend did a favor for me (took about 1 hour of her time) so I invited her to a Michelin restaurant. The dish we wanted to order is for 5 people (and costs about 10k TWD), so I said bring some of your family if you want to help us finish. One thing I didn’t clarify is whether I’d be paying for everyone’s extra food/drinks, and each dish/drink at this place costs 1k+ TWD.

So few days before the dinner date I ask her, “here’s an idea - how about I pay for the main dish and your family pay for their own appetizers / drinks”?

Well she becomes really upset at me, says I am assuming she and her family are poor, they they don’t need me to sponsor their meal, that I as a host should just pay for everything or their family will feel embarrassed, and now she doesn’t want to go to the restaurant despite me saying fine I’ll just pay for everything if it’s reasonable. So I’m left with a reservation that I can’t cancel (there’s a 5k TWD cancellation fee) and need to find a last minute date.

Who was wrong in this situation?

What does your gut tell you? If you’re keen on her, pay for the lot. Just don’t make it habitual.


You’re wrong. If you offer to buy her dinner and say “bring your family”, it obviously means you’re paying (unless you make it clear at the time). Now you want to change that deal after she’s already invited them. She’s right, it’s embarrassing for her.

Just pay it.


I’ve had friends (Taiwanese) invite friends (Taiwanese) to expensive meals, only to end up with ten people instead of a planned-for three or four because they all invited family too. The “inviting” person always got angry that their friends would be so shameless as to use them as a piggy bank. The invited people would feel like this is just what people are supposed to do and that they should be allowed to invite whoever they want. So it’s not “cultural”, your situation.

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Mistakes on multiple levels and multiple cultures

In most countries, host pays inviting someone for dinner (or include their family) and don’t ask for anything.

In Taiwan, as much or more, the host always pays and doesn’t ask for anything.

And there’s almost an informal agreement that you will be hosted or gifted or something in return.

Maybe there’s more to the story than appears.


It’s less embarrassing for her now to explain to the family members she’s invited that the dinner date has been cancelled. It’s very tricky explaining how a free meal she invited them to now has some costs attached.

I agree. The OP should apologise to her and pay for everything.


Unless you made it clear from the outset that you’d be splitting the bill, you pay. Same in most cultures, I think, but particularly in Taiwan.

If you wanted to spend less money you should have chosen a different restaurant :slight_smile:


Ya, this.

Starting with the diamond ring sets a dangerous precedent.


Host of course pays the full bill and orders an appropriately face-giving selection of dishes for the table to enjoy.

Mistakes are opporunities to learn.


Ok I think I was wrong. I’ll see if the situation is salvageable…


Very much agree, choose a cheaper place if you did not want spend that much. I would not be happy and it maybe more like not a thank you gift than expensive burden. I’d rather have a nice coffee, wine or drink with box biscuit cookie(cookies) to share with my family than invite my family on a date.

My mom would like this one in A Kuo Lu Wei – Taipei - a MICHELIN Guide Restaurant (should be under NT$300), for me this (much cheaper than your choice) Tamai – Taipei - a MICHELIN Guide Restaurant


I get the feeling there’s more to this story than meets the eye. The OP wants to invite “her” on an expensive date but is too shy to say so.


Based on what’s presented above, there are certainly a lot of mixed signals.

If someone invites me to a Michelin Star restaurant, I expect them to pay. It is completely beyond my economic means to go there and thus I’d never go there myself.

That’s my rule based on inviting someone to a restaurant. If you are not ok with this then find a restaurant within their economic means.

And most Taiwanese would get pissed if they were invited to an expensive restaurant and told they had to pay a portion of it.


Most people (especially if not stipulated at the time of invite)


Just tell her you asked a bunch of weird old foreigners on the Internet what to do and we suggested you make her family pay for the drinks and apps :wink:


You do know that taking a ladies family out to an expensive restaurant is fundamentally a proposal here :wink:


She told me not to invite her or her family out again

That’s about enough drama for me for this week


Except that would make him look like someone who can’t think for himself. :laughing:


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