How to Set an Asian Table

Check out these 7 tips for incorporating Asian elements into a meal and how to present it.

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Asian-influenced tabletops can have a variety of looks — from calm and serene to vibrant and exciting — and the key to all of them is composition. Asian tabletops are all about balance, color, placement and the simplicity of the objects. Here are some ideas for setting various moods with Asian elements:

1. Use deep reds and golden highlights to set an opulent Chinese-inspired tabletop. A gold platter with Chinese inscriptions adds drama when used as a charger under red lacquer plates, with the golden hues repeated in the amber stemware. And the centerpiece could be composed of a small group of stone figures flanked by small bunches of red roses.

2. For a serene mood, try a soothing muted green and move the party into the living room. Incorporate a coffee table for serving, and sit on pillows for a casual and fun gathering.

3. Look for geometric shapes, unusual colors (from bright to muted), bamboo linens and placemats, and natural textures such as reed and silk that blend into a balanced presentation. Few elements are needed to get an Asian feel; put glazed ceramic plates over bamboo placemats and use black iron lanterns for festive but simple centerpieces.

4. To create a festive mood, look beyond the dining table. A reproduction Chinese cabinet is a wonderful backdrop for a buffet table decorated with vegetation. Cabbage can overflow from a wrought-iron vase while a row of miniature pineapples stands at attention underneath.

5. Use ordinary rice in a tray with the plates set on top or in a vase with flowers or fresh vegetables. Or line an oblong wooden bowl with rice and place votive candles on top to use as the centerpiece.

6. Wrap the outside of cylindrical glasses in plastic for protection, moisten spring-roll wraps and drape them around the outside of each glass. Once dry, remove the wraps and place a votive holder inside.

7. Place a seaweed wrap between each plate and charger for decoration. Moisten udon noodles and wrap them in a small circle to use as napkin rings once dry, and tie individual name cards to pears with raffia. Rest a pair of chopsticks on a tiny pepper next to each plate.

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