If you are in Little Saigon on any given Friday or Saturday evening, peek into one of the banquet-style restaurants and you are sure to notice lively groups crowded around big round tables in a great big dining room. Waiters hurry back and forth, carrying large platters of steaming food to every table. Take a closer look and you will observe that on every table is a round, spinning platform covered with food. It’s the lazy Susan, a primary symbol of the Asian feast.
For the Vietnamese, these feasts at fine-dining, lazy Susan-whirling establishments are one of many practices that exemplify our culture and traditions. Family feasts and gatherings are required for weddings and funerals and death anniversaries as well as holidays, such as Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, and Tet Trung Thu, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. But even work or school successes are reason enough for a party. Sharing food is the traditional way family and friends celebrate, so naturally a round table is the only shape befitting a group of equals, an important reflection of the Vietnamese culture. Vietnamese beliefs follow yin and yang, and the lazy Susan gives balance to the meal, making it possible to serve all the guests at the table quickly and proportionately.