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A growing number of people are eating alone, whether at home or in restaurants, and overturning traditional etiquette. Zhang Yangfei reports.
In China, food has always played a major role in promoting social cohesion. Communal eating is not on
ly familybased and deeply rooted in the nation’s cultural heritage, but is also regarded as an indicator of society’s health and stability.
Given that background, it is little wonder that eating alone, publicly or privately, has long been considered taboo.
However, in recent years things have started to change as a r
esult of demographic shifts and the growing influence of modern lifestyles.
According to a report released last year by the global market researcher
Kantar, 46 percent of people interviewed said they had eaten alone in the previous 24 ho
urs, a rise of 9 percent from 2017, and about 16 percent expressed a preference for eating solo.
traditional local cuisine－rice with salted pork and greens, the Cai Fan in the name－has ga
ined a good reputation for its traditional flavors and its striking interior design.
Instead of rows of tables that can seat four or more people, the restaurant has just one long table
divided into individual booths by boards. When seated, diners face a small curtain-covered window, wh
ere the food is served anonymously. Each booth contains coat hangers and charging sockets.
“I wanted to let our customers know that a single person also needs to eat well, so I designed things this wa
y to make them feel less ashamed about eating alone. One person can eat out and enjoy it,” said Li Le, the owner.
Many diners have left supportive comments about the eatery on Dazhong Dianping, an online restaurant review platf
orm. “With one person, one booth, eating alone is no longer embarrassing. A bowl of fragrant rice with a bowl of re
freshing mung bean soup provides a very comfortable dinner here,” commented a customer called Kobayashi1214.