For the sake of this post, I’m going to pretend that you’ve never been to a Chinese buffet in your life. You’re a Chinese buffet virgin and you don’t know what’s in store.
So instead of charging into the Chinese buffet palace and demanding rights where you have none or expecting service where there is none, I’ve set up some rules and guidelines for you noobs.
(like the 10 Commandments, dawg)
These can NOT be broken, unless you want to incur the wrath of the waving golden cat who comes to life at night and chews off the fingernails of offensive patrons.
Rule #1: Wave to the cat
Like I said, this cat has mystical nocturnal powers. When you enter the Chinese buffet and see the cat waving at you, you must wave back. If you feel like this is not enough homage to the cat, or feel like the cat is giving you a dirty look, then I suggest you bow or curtsy to it, just in case. If you have any affection for your fingernails you must obey this rule.
Rule #2: Waiting an appropriate amount of time after the waiter/waitress takes your drink order
(probably not what the waiting staff will wear)
Chances are, once you’ve entered and waved to the cat and all the delicious aromas have been inhaled and sunk deep in your skin, you’ll be consumed with a ravishing hunger.
Now you might be tempted to go straight to the buffet and start piling food on a plate.
Do NOT do this. Yet. Or else you won’t know which table the waitress has picked out for you.
Once you see the table she picked for you, you might be temped to go straight to the buffet and start piling food on your plate.
Do NOT do this. Yet. Or else your drink order won’t be taken, and after three plates of soy sauce soaked entrees you’ll really regret it. Tell the waitress your drink order.
Note: some people like to stay standing while telling the wait staff their drink order, just so they’ll have a quick getaway. However, I like to sit at the table, and make sure my silverware and napkin are there because there’s nothing so heartbreaking as getting back to the table with platefuls of food and having no utensils to eat it with. Some (in their grief) start shoveling food in their mouths with their fingers. But I have honor, I will never be caught in such a devastating situation.
Now that you know where your table is, and the wait staff knows what drink to bring you, NOW is the time to sprint to the buffet.
Rule #3: NO SPRINTING
Are you crazy? Do not sprint in the restaurant. A small child could dart in front of you and you’d run them over. Running over a child is something you’d regret for the rest of your life, even if you did get your full of Chinese cuisine.
Rule #4: The Wonton Rule
In past Chinese restaurant experiences, you’ve probably only seen wontons or crab rangoon come in numbers of 4-6. But at the buffet, they are innumerable. As many as the stars in the sky. As many as the sands on a seashore. It can be overwhelming.
You may want to eat the whole of their numbers.
But there is a hard and fast rule about how many wontons you can consume.
Under no circumstances are you supposed to eat more wontons than the pounds that you weigh.
If you weigh 115 lbs, you may eat 115 wontons. If you weigh 285 lbs, you may have 285 crab rangoons.
That’s the law, baby. No way around it.
My little girl can only eat 24. I can usually have 156, thought sometimes I can have 160 or 165 (usually after I’ve been going to a lot of Chinese buffets recently.)
So before you go to the buffet, I recommend you weigh yourself just to make sure you don’t overeat. And don’t try to fake it by acting fatter than you are! Remember, the cat is always watching.
Rule #5: Tip Your Wait Staff
I know, I know. The waiter/waitress did not take food orders or bring appetizers of any of the busy work most wait staff have to do. But they did have to clear your plates. Sometimes this can be an arduous process. They also have to keep your beverage refilled, which is a big job considering all the sodium you’re ingesting.
Plus, and this is the biggie: they just had to watch you stuff your face for the last 30 minutes with an ungodly quantity of food. This is more like an apology, than a tip.
(like the Pirate’s Code, y’all)
Guideline #1: The middle of the liners
Sometimes you’ll see someone in the middle of the buffet. You’ll need the crab rangoon (or Sesame Chicken) (or sautéed green beans) (or crab legs) that is just to the left of them. You’re afraid that if you go right to the dish you want you’ll reach it at the same time they’ll grab the handle of the serving spoon.
The guideline is wait.
I know it’s hard. Believe me. I know how hard it is. But just wait until they’ve moved on before you serve your plate because nothing is more awkward than reaching for the serving spoon at the same time, and then starting a brawl over who grabbed it first.
Guideline #2: American Food disdain
This may be extremely shocking to you, but some people go to a Chinese buffet and only eat the American food there.
If you can call it food.
The Chinese are so disdainful of the American food that they don’t even try to make it appetizing. Re-heated chicken nuggets. Frozen pizza. Salmon with cheese on it. Mussels with cheese on it. Potatoes with cheese on it. They’ll just sprinkle cheese on any frozen entree and call it their “American selection.” Be sure to show an appropriate amount of disdain for this section, as if it offends you to just see it there. The cooks and wait staff will appreciate it. I mean, come on. Cheese on mussels? What’s next? Cream cheese in sushi?!
Guideline #3: Appropriate number of sushi
Most people should be able to eat 5 sushi and call it a meal.
Isn’t that what sushi is supposed to be? It’s all about balance and an excellent sufficiency.
Which of course comes against everything a Chinese buffet stands for.
Our Chinese buffet in town has an amazing sushi chef, he creates sushi so beautiful and tasty and perfectly crafted that every bite is like a celebration in your mouth. YOU WANT TO EAT A HUNDRED OF THEM!
But of course, if you pile a hundred sushi on your plate, the sushi chef will give you a withering glance that says, “I ate three of these for breakfast and I am still satisfied.”
In order to avoid that withering glance, I suggest only putting 5-7 sushi on your plate. He’ll probably raise his eyebrow at you, but nothing worse than that.
But how do you get more, you ask?
I suggest bringing several disguises in a suitcase with you. You see, if you’re wearing glasses and a cowgirl outfit he’ll not realize you were the same person who just came a minute ago. And after that plate is finished, simply put on your dwarf maiden costume and go get some more. You’ll never receive that withering glance, and you’ll probably even get a few appreciate glances for your awesome replica mithril chain mail.
So there you have it, dudes and dames. The rules and regulations regarding Chinese buffets.
If you have any of your own, or remember one that I forgot please say so in the comments!
I don’t want to upset the cat.
I’m always watching you