After a bit of plan­ning (check­ing prices, ask­ing for dis­count coupons, reserv­ing table) and wait­ing (some­one had midterms), we took our eat-all-you-can adven­tures to the Heat Buf­fet at Shangri-la Edsa this weekend.

Some of the things we ate, I stopped tak­ing pho­tos after my first plate and then only remem­bered to take pho­tos when we got to dessert.

I’m not going to lie and say that we dain­tily sam­pled the gen­er­ous spread, like the good well-mannered girls we’re sup­posed to be. We were buf­fet bust­ing vet­er­ans, effi­ciently hus­tling between table and food sta­tions, skip­ping fillers (pasta, rice, lots of liq­uids), sam­pling new dishes (indian curry, spicy prawn puffs) and load­ing up on favorites (cheese, prime rib, rock lob­ster, prawns, exotic sal­ads). The food was well worth the P1,083 (P1,548 with a 30% dis­count) we spent. The only real dis­ap­point­ment was the lack of cooked salmon or sea bass and the roast duck rolls with­out duck skin.

Our pre­vi­ously held jobs afforded us many oppor­tu­ni­ties to prac­tice our buf­fet skills. Some of the tips and tricks picked up over the years are as follows:

1. Come in the com­fort­able clothes.
Skip tight and form fit­ting cloth­ing and fab­rics, unless you are will­ing to claim to be in the early months of preg­nancy after gorg­ing on buf­fet food.

What I Wore (approx­i­ma­tion) (1) loose black cot­ton shift dress — loose enough to hide the food baby (2) flats — for walk­ing back and forth between your table and the buf­fet while hold­ing plates and avoid­ing other buf­fet goers (3) nice nail pol­ish — no real value at the buf­fet, I just like wear­ing nail pol­ish (4) satchel or any bag with a shoul­der strap — so you won’t need some­one to watch your bag while you’re at the buf­fet table.

Like sea­soned buf­fet busters, we showed up in the proper gear — loose fit­ting cot­ton blouses / dress, stretchy jeans, and flats.

2. Always remem­ber that you can come back for sec­onds, thirds etc…

A few years ago, dur­ing a work­ing lunch, I remem­ber my boss exclaim­ing “Is that all you’re get­ting?!” when I returned to the table with my first plate — 5 dif­fer­ent cheeses, slices of sea­soned salmon and smoked milk­fish, and a small por­tion of greek salad. I politely responded with “Don’t worry Sir, I’m going back for more!”

I hate how peo­ple rush to the buf­fet tables and just heap huge help­ings of the first things they see onto their first plate. They seem to for­get that the tables and food are inan­i­mate objects inca­pable of run­ning away. It usu­ally helps to do a taste test — get small por­tions of things, that look or smell inter­est­ing, before going back for big­ger help­ings. You’ll be able to load up on more things you actu­ally enjoy, rather than be forced to fin­ish less enjoy­able dishes or have tons of left­overs on your plate.

Take advan­tage of the num­ber of times you can return to the buf­fet spread. Eat from each sec­tion at a time, it’ll help you keep track of what you’ve tried and liked, should you want to come back for sec­ond help­ings. Finally, stand­ing up and walk­ing a bit is good for you!

3. Go with good friends.

Eat-all-you-can buf­fets are like theme parks. There is a huge pos­si­bil­ity that you will be pre­sent­ing a less than flat­ter­ing side of your­self, thus they make for awk­ward first dates. Your friends can watch you demol­ish a two plates of prawns and rock lob­sters in record time and stand up for a third serv­ing with­out dis­gust, or dis­dain. Your friends will also under­stand and or agree that there is always space for dessert.

Finally, your friends will not judge you as you wad­dle your way away from the meal ala Tem­ple­ton at the fair (1:36 to 1:47).

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