Mastering the Art of the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

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Did you know that the buffet was once frowned upon in the gastronomical world? In fact, it’s an evolution from an elegant pre-dinner selection of the finest appetisers and tidbits known as the Smorgasbord – invented by the Swedes – turned into a feast for the gluttons. Thank you, America.

If you’re looking at your next buffet as a quest to dominate and consume everything, this article is probably not for you. At City Nomads, we’re all about experiences and walking (not rolling) away truly satisfied. Here’s 10 tips on getting the best of out what buffets have to offer.

Choose Your Fashion

kitchen table sunday remix brunch - how to get the best out of a buffet

What you wear matters. We don’t encourage you to pig out but you are definitely going to eat a big meal, so skinny jeans or LBDs aren’t going to help your cause. Find something you’re comfortable with that has some wiggle room. Don’t forget about footwear, it’s not a sushi train, the food won’t come to you.

Plan A Long Meal

Don’t allow less than two hours for your buffet. If you only have two hours, find a nice restaurant that will be able to give you a much better experience (check out our article on having an awesome night out). There’s just way too many amazing things you want to try and two hours just won’t cut it.

Go For A Scout

You’ve been taken to your table, but don’t grab your plate just yet. Scout out the buffet, check out the meats and desserts and wonder with your eyes. Make a mental note of what you want to try and what looks delicious. That way you can add it to your game plan later. It’s important not to be tempted in the first two minutes, stay strong!

edge pan pacific - how to get the best out of a buffet
edge – Pan Pacific Singapore

Light to Heavy, Cold to Hot

This is the most important factor of your buffet experience – planning out your meal and forming the best possible eating experience. Here’s a quick, general order that would enhance the buffet greatly: chilled raw seafood, sashimi and sushi; cured meats, paté and charcuterie (stay away from cheese); small appetisers (satay, cooked seafood); and then light dishes (dumplings, grilled seafood, smoked meats).

From there, move on to the soups (if they are creamed based,we recommend taking a smaller portion); heavy foods (curries, stews and meats); and finally carbs (pasta, rice dishes, noodles and bread). Still have space for more? Go back to your favourites in any order you want!

Pro-tip: If you feel full at anytime, have a palate cleanser like sorbet or cold lettuce salad with an acidic citrus dressing (not a Caesar salad!)

Slow and Steady Wins The Race

Takes things really slowly, eat at a good pace, and enjoy the company of your friends. Once you’ve finished your plate you don’t need to go rush back into the battlefield. Chill out, check Facebook, post a photo on Instagram. You want to enjoy the buffet, not eat it all and be sent to the hospital after.

oscars conrad - how to get the best out of a buffet
Oscar’s – Conrad Centennial

Embrace The Walking

Walk a lot, as much as you can. Do laps around the seafood stand. If the queue is long for the steaks, go for a walk and come back later. Grab smaller plates of everything so that you walk back and forth more. This is the only meal you will ever go to that offers a workout and a feast, embrace it.

Don’t Try To Eat Everything

Buffets are not challenges for the punter. They’re not challenging you to eat all you can eat, but giving you the biggest and best variety possible within walking distance. You won’t be able to eat all the flavours, textures, and colours in one seating, so don’t even try it.

Carbohydrates Are Not Your Friends

Pasta, breads, and rice are your enemies. They’ll fill you up and destroy any chance of exploring all the flavours. Stay away from them, especially at the start of the meal. If you have eaten everything you want to eat (before cheese and desserts) and you’re still hungry, this is where you venture to the land of carbs.

Drink Well

kitchen table boozy brunch - how to get the best out of a buffet
The Kitchen Table – W Singapore Sentosa Cove

If you’re at a champagne brunch and want to drink three bottles of bubbly by yourself, you’re better off buying three bottles from a retail store and enjoying it at home. You only have one stomach and it needs to be shared with the food. Here’s a little secret: buffets love to sell you champagne as they take up a lot of stomach space. So drink well, and drink to compliment your meal.

Dessert & Cheese

The most scrumptious and colourful part of the buffet is almost like a mini Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory! But wait, there’s a science to enjoying the desserts too. The magic sequence is fruits (fresh fruits first); jellies and ice (sorbets or granitas, not ice cream); candy, chocolate, creams, and cakes (tiramisu, tarts, triffles); ice Cream (finally!); and then hot puddings (pancakes, bread and butter puddings, soufflé).

Many people have said, “No matter how much you eat, you will always be able to eat cheese” and this is true. The best way to tackle this section is to grab enough cheese, crackers and condiments for the entire group and throw it in the middle. While everyone is relaxing, finishing up their beverages and slowly digesting, you can pick and graze at the central cheese plate.

intercontinental - how to get the best out of a buffet
Ash & Elm – InterContinental Singapore

And that’s how to get the most out of your buffet. Don’t go into one thinking you’ll be able to eat more than the money you are paying for it. If that was the case for everyone, buffets simply would not exist. Go into a buffet ready to explore a combination of different cuisines and flavours, and you’ll have a ball!

Tron Young

Raised in Australia by a beautiful Thai mother and a charming Scottish father, Tron is the epitome of the third culture child. Today, he is the foremost expert on ice cream and is also well versed in the world of beverages and food. Currently on a quest to eat at every single Swensens on the island or die trying. May the force be with him.

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