If you don't want one of the dishes being passed, simply don't take any and pass it to the next person.
"In China, people usually follow a strict seating rule during a family dinner. If all family members are seated at a rectangular table, the hosts/hostesses and/or the senior members of the family usually sit at the far edges of the table in order to show their respected identity. Also, nobody should start eating before the senior members do. However, when I came to the United States three years ago, I found out that people here do not follow a specific set of seating rules at all. Most of the dining tables here are round and dinner participants can sit wherever they want to regardless of their identities or the shape of tables. When the hosts announce the beginning of the dinner, people start to pass the food containers around the circle. In this way, regardless of age, everybody sitting on the table can get their food whenever the container is passed to their hands. Whenever the person has food in his/her plate, he/she can start eating without having to wait until everyone gets their food.
Adjusting to this part of American culture always seems hard to me. Now, when I come over to someone's house for a dinner, I usually observe how other people act on the table before taking actions. Read more