Never underestimate the importance of business entertaining in Taiwan. It is an absolute essential in the development of successful relationships.
Entertaining should, therefore, never be regarded as a waste of time. If you invite people it is important to choose the right restaurant and local help may be needed with this.
As in mainland China, dining in Taiwan can be an exhausting experience with as many as twenty courses being served at a formal banquet. These events can also last late into the night and be accompanied by large intakes of alcohol.
Try not to discuss business at dinner unless your hosts bring it up – the event is for developing relationships. Use the occasion to find out more about Taiwan, Chinese food, the hosts interests etc.
During a meal, the hosts will often place food on the guests’ plates but each person is also free to help themselves to additional food by placing a small amount of food from a variety of dishes in their own rice bowl. Always remember to leave a little food in your bowl. If you finish everything it can be taken as a sign that you are still hungry which is probably the last thing you want to do after twenty courses.
Tea is usually served at the end of the meal and this signals the end of the event. It is polite to leave at this point even if your host invites you to stay longer.
Tipping is not customary in Taiwan although most restaurants automatically add a service charge on to the bill.