France may be renowned for its culinary legacy, however the very first restaurants appeared some 600 years earlier on the other side of the world.

You are watching: Where does the word restaurant come from

People have actually been eating exterior of the residence for millennia, to buy a fast snack native a street vendor or taking a take trip break in ~ a roadside inn for a bowl of stew and also a pint that mead.

In the West, most at an early stage versions the the modern restaurant come from France and a culinary transformation launched in 18th-century Paris. However one of the earliest examples of a true restaurant culture began 600 years earlier and also halfway roughly the world.

Singing Waiters of the song Dynasty


A scene in what is believed to it is in the ancient capital that Kaifeng showing food stalls from a scroll titled 'Going increase the river at the Qingming Festival' by Zhang Zeduan, circa 1100. 

Werner Forman/Universal pictures Group/Getty Images

According to Elliott Shore and Katie Rawson, co-authors that Dining Out: A an international of Restaurants, the very very first establishments that were conveniently recognizable together restaurants popped up approximately 1100 A.D. In China, once cities favor Kaifeng and Hangzhou boasted densely pack urban populations of more than 1 million inhabitants each.

Trade was bustling between these northern and southern resources of the 12th-century song Dynasty, explains Shore, a professor emeritus of at Bryn Mawr College, however Chinese tradesmen traveling outside their residence city weren’t accustomed to the strange neighborhood foods.

“The original restaurants in those two cities are basically southern cooking for world coming up from the south or northern cooking for people coming under from the north,” says Shore. “You can say the ‘ethnic restaurant’ was the an initial restaurant.”

These prototypical restaurants were located in lively to chat districts the catered to company travelers, finish with hotels, bars and also brothels. According to Chinese papers from the era, the variety of restaurant choices in the 1120s resembled a downtown tourist district in a 21st-century city.

See more: What Book In The Bible Contains The Longest Verse S Of The Bible

“You could go come a noodle shop, a dim sum restaurant, a vast place that was fantastically and opulently placed together or a little chop suey joint,” says Shore.

The dining experience at the larger and also fancier restaurants were strikingly similar to today. According to a Chinese manuscript indigenous 1126 quoted in Dining Out, patrons that one well-known restaurant were first greeted v a choice of pre-plated “demonstration” key representing thousands of delectable options. Then came a well-trained and also theatrical team of waiters.

“The waiter took your orders, then stood in line in front of the kitchen and, when his rotate came, sang the end his orders to those in the kitchen. Those who were in fee of the kitchen were dubbed ‘pot masters’ or were dubbed ‘controllers of the ready tables.’ This came to an finish in a issue of moments and also the waiter—his left hand sustaining three dishes and also his ideal arm stacked from hand to shoulder v some twenty dishes, one on optimal of the other—distributed castle in the exact order in i m sorry they had actually been ordered. Not the slightest error to be allowed.”

In Japan, a distinctive restaurant culture arose the end of the Japanese teahouse heritages of the 1500s the predated today’s “seasonal” and “local” activities by fifty percent a millennium. The 16th-century Japanese chief Sen no Rikyu produced the multi-course kaiseki dining tradition, in which entire tasting menus to be crafted to tell the story of a specific place and season. Rikyu’s grandsons increased the legacy to include speciality serving dishes and also cutlery the matched the aesthetic the the food gift served.

Despite centuries of trade in between the East and also West, there’s no evidence that the early on restaurant cultures of China or Japan influenced later european notions that the restaurant.