What to eat on a first date


Pizza is cute and casual. — Filepic

It’s already June, half the year gone. There are no big important exams to fuss over, the festivities are long gone and things are moving kind of slowly. So, let’s have some fun and talk about first dates!

Of course, there are some unspoken rules. For instance, don’t opt for curry laksa or messy banana leaf rice where there’s a high chance you may mess up your clothes and look totally uncool.

But then again, you’re probably already worried about your clothes, what kind of impression you’ll make, how the conversation will go and generally, if the event will go bust. The last thing you want is to be stressed over food, right? It makes sense to choose what both parties will like. It also depends on the age. If you’re in the younger age group, you may prefer a cafe setting as it’s a more casual environment.

StarEats asks some young and not-so-young people who happily share what they think may make a great first-date food choice.

Italian starter of Maine lobster. Choosing Italian shows a touch of fancy but is still familiar to everyone. — FilepicItalian starter of Maine lobster. Choosing Italian shows a touch of fancy but is still familiar to everyone. — Filepic

1. Italian cuisine

“I would choose something that’s not local – must have a bit of class-lah. Italian is not intimidating and has options on the menu that appeal to most, which is great as at this early stage, I don’t know what she likes. None of those pasta joints with strips of processed meat where the waiter can’t even differentiate between the pasta, thank you! I would choose a proper Italian restaurant which would have a full menu, from antipasti and pizza, to gnocchi and alcohol-infused tiramisu. Certainly I’ll foot the bill as it’s hard enough for me to get a date, if I make her pay she’ll probably never go out with me again!” — Derrick, call centre manager

Korean BBQ can be an interactive first date. — FilepicKorean BBQ can be an interactive first date. — Filepic

2. Korean BBQ

“My first choice would be the local mamak as it’s casual, inexpensive and doesn’t impose any expectations. If it’s a little more atas, I would opt for a Korean barbecue as it’s interactive; you can take turns cooking the meat and at the same time, it’s a good indicator of how she’ll handle food if she has to cook next time!” — Richard, film editor

A Japanese restaurant offers maki with assorted toppings. — FilepicA Japanese restaurant offers maki with assorted toppings. — Filepic

3. Sushi

“Japanese food is a good bet as it looks good, is easy to eat and clean, so there’s not much of a chance I’ll make a mess of things. These days, most people won’t take a date to a cheap conveyor-belt sushi joint, unless you’re a student. Somewhere with a more expansive menu where there’s a choice of bento, sushi, sashimi and small starter plates would be good. A decent Japanese restaurant should come up to between RM100 and RM150, and that’s plenty of food already...although I know some young guys who will spend as much as RM600 for a first date meal!” — Alan, businessman

Seafood platter is always a crowd-pleaser. — FilepicSeafood platter is always a crowd-pleaser. — Filepic

4. Fine dining

“I would prefer a place that offers casual fine-dine course meals or fine dining establishments. It makes the date more official and romantic, and can help build the relationship too. I would expect the guy to pay. I’ve been to places like Blackbyrd in Kuala Lumpur and ordered a starter like satay and risotto for mains, or maybe a more casual place like Bottega KL, starting with a charcuterie set which we shared and then, a seafood stew. These places offer good food and make a good impression.” — Audrey, hotel assistant PR manager

5. Steak

“I would definitely opt for Western food, something like steak or a seafood platter. I would say a first date in a coffeeshop is a definite no-no! If steak is too much, then at least a nice cafe. If he prefers Chinese food, then I’ll go for dim sum. More importantly, the restaurant must have air-cond!” — Sharon, financial adviser

Beverages to get the conversation going. — FilepicBeverages to get the conversation going. — Filepic

6. Drinks and conversation

“When I was 14, I brought this girl to Victoria Station and we had steak; I even bought her flowers as I really wanted to impress her! Nowadays, I like the idea of just going out for drinks first, as it’s more relaxed and a more casual way to get to know someone. You don’t have to think so much about what you’re doing with your hands and what’s going into your mouth, so you can focus on the conversation and look at the other person. Besides, first dates are always nerve-wrecking so having a drink or two helps. Paying for a first date is a nice gesture, but if we’re going to be meeting more often, we could go Dutch or even take turns to pay.” — Dashran, freelance designer

7. Pizza

“True story: we went to Burger King and the guy paid for the meal. After that, we passed by a tea shop and I asked if he liked tea, and he said he liked me! Real smooth, and we’ve been together for seven years now! Generally, I find that a pizza-and-pasta place is cute and casual for a first date. It’s nothing too serious in case nothing else develops after that, and I don’t even mind splitting the bill as it feels fair and keeps things uncomplicated.” — Carmen, project manager

8. Turkish food

“I would choose a place that’s not too crowded; typically I would go somewhere like Turkish Cafe Istanbul as it’s somewhere I’m familiar with, and for safety reasons as well. The surrounding is comfortable and the food is good. It’s not something people usually eat so that’s a talking point, and also it’s good on the first date to check out the guy’s reactions.” — Lynn, advertising executive

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