Buffet: Tricks of the Trade for the Common Eater

Buffets… Formidable, Mouth-watering, expensive… And throughout the years of being an avid fan of the service style that is buffet, I have come to know some “tricks of the trade” that would maximize my dining experiences. It’s funny that I’ve developed my own formula for such an occasion, but I’ve seen a lot of people go and eat something they don’t have to leave home to find. (Read: waste of money). So let me share with you some tips for making the most of your meal:

 

1. Make the Necessary Preparations

If you know in advance that you are going to an eat-all-you-can restaurant, you can prepare by a sort of “detox” through the earlier part of the day. *Eat “diet” foods like oatmeal or fruit. That’ll fill you up but empty out pretty fast, so that you get to the buffet with a nice whet appetite. DO NOT, however, think of fasting to starve yourself. An empty, rumbling tummy just backfires badly, and you do not want to experience empatso while on a FULL stomach. It. Just. Plain. Sucks.

 

*It’s basically practicing the principles of a healthy diet (i.e. choosing foods that fill you up, though they rest on the digestive system lightly), but using it in reverse. lol

 

2. Treat the Buffet like a Personal Degustation

Take only a small serving of each dish, so that you can taste the whole buffet. Then you can go back to the dishes you liked best. Part of the experience is the appreciation of the spread, and you can’t do that if you’re not game to try what the place really has to offer.

 

3. Choose Food Wisely

Consider the quality of what you are eating. Pick stuff that you don’t usually have at home (perhaps imported/exotic items or dishes that take lots of time and effort to prepare). But don’t forget to eat your favourite food, regardless of if it’s only a simple dish. It is, after all, still about your enjoyment.

Are you set on consuming carbs? Do you have to have rice with all viands? Having little or no rice/bread will leave so much space in your system to try other foods, especially in a round-the-world cuisines buffet like at Spirals or Circles.

 

4. Don’t Fill Up on Drinks

Go with water, and only a little bit. Take a few sips if you find your throat dry or if you think you might start to choke. Skip sugary drinks that can only serve to bloat.

 

5. Have Your Tanggal-Umay

You may start to feel like you’ve been consuming too much of the same thing and all the food starts to play heavily on the palate. This is commonly known as umay. And it can happen any place, any time. But you can use the available food around you to your advantage by munching on something with a distinct, palate-cleansing taste. This is your tanggal-umay.

Some places (like Spirals) will offer sorbet. But in cases that it is  not there, you can always grab a small morsel from the dessert or salad table. Preferably, something tart or sour. Or something like Oolong Tea, which I swear by for post-meal umay.

Note: When you’re full, you’re full. There is a difference between suffering from umay and being stuffed to capacity. Having a full palate is definitely different from having a bursting gut. Know which is which and when to stop and take a breather. This isn’t an eating contest anyway.

 

6. Consider Skipping Dessert

Unless you’re in a 5-star hotel with highly experienced pastry chefs, the desserts in most buffets aren’t all that good. The cakes tend to be either dry or bought from industrial cake suppliers. –Though the ice cream is pretty decent, albeit generic. (Nestle, Selecta, etc.)- Often, the desserts are a non-committal “Meh…” at best, so maybe you should do without them and save more room for tastier dishes.

My personal exception is made, however, for creme brulee. I find that this is usually a safe bet in restaurants, since the mousses tend to taste like airy, jellied milk (if the cream they use is too light) and puddings can get too dense/sticky. A custard dessert is often well-executed because a lot of people are familiar with making leche flan.

 

7. Live with Yourself Afterwards

Obviously, you’ve done your pigging out. Now it’s time to deal with the consequences. Here are your options: a.) Burn it off at the gym; b.) Diet for the rest of the week; or c.) Sit your ass down, but handle the guilt.

 

 

Places that I would love to see having affordable all-you-can-eat specials:

  1. Krispy Kreme – At 200 calories a donut, you’d definitely hate yourself the next morning. It’s a lot like the Haagen-Dasz ice cream buffet, since that brand supposedly has some of the richest ice creams inAmerica.
  2. Frozen Yogurt (Red Mango, if possible) – Red Mango yogurt is so creamy, it’s practically ice cream!
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