The people you meet at a buffet

Art by Ross Du

Filipinos love to eat. That’s probably the second most-bragged-about characteristic our people have, right next to being cheerful all the time. This is probably the reason why buffet restaurants continue to sprout like mushrooms — they are all over the place all of a sudden.

Of course, we take advantage of this all-you-can-eat situation. We go on special occasions or to wind down after work, even in the wee hours of the morning (Something Fishy’s breakfast buffet, anyone?)

If your jaw is tired from chewing stale bread and undercooked lechon, you can always take your eyes off the plate and focus on the people. A buffet restaurant is like a jungle; each predator has different ways of attacking their prey –– in this case, the buffet table.  Here’s a list of types of people you meet at a buffet restaurant.

The Lazy eater 

The only thing worse than being this person is being with this person. More often than not, the lazy eaters are your relatives who use their “maturity” to tell you to get them food. In their eyes, they’re Cleopatra and you’re the servant feeding them grapes, or in this case, salmon sashimi. They ask you — or the youngest in the family — to get mounds of shrimp and peel the skin off of them. At times like these, it’s best to sit right in the middle of the table so you have an excuse not to get up if you don’t feel like it.

The Celebrant 

Look around and spot the biggest group in the room. One of them is probably celebrating his or her birthday. To spot the celebrant, look for the one with the smuggest look on his/her face and saying “Go get whatever you want!” Well, yeah. It’s a buffet. They’re so noisy and chaotic that you probably thought that someone was having a heart attack. It’s best to sit away from this group; you wouldn’t want to hear the awkward “Birthday Song” remix sung 10 times.

The Food critic

The moment they enter the restaurant, they immediately say “the desserts better at (insert restaurant that’s thrice as expensive as where you are now).” They complain about every single food item — yes, even the salads. We get it. You eat better than the rest of us. Can’t you just let us enjoy the limited sushi selection and shrimp tempura that’s more batter than shrimp? We like the tasteless chocolate cake, so don’t ruin this for us. We don’t eat out often.

The Panic eater

They probably saw that viral Chinese buffet video and said, “What’s wrong with that?” It’s easy to spot them; just look for someone holding a plate that’s so full of food, you probably second-guessed whether you’re in Spiral or Mongolian Quick Stop. The moment they enter the restaurant, they go straight to the rice and pile it on their plate as if they’re going to run out of it if they take the time to sit on the table. Our tip: calm down. Indigestion is so last season.

The Food stylist wannabe 

Some buffet restaurants don’t have the best presentation for their food. You can’t exactly Instagram the trays as they are. Sometimes, you have to do the work and be your own food stylist. You don’t always have to do an elaborate presentation like you’re joining Top Chef. That might hinder you from enjoying the actual eating. Just take it easy. One food photo is enough. No need to give the buffet a free online promo, especially if the food isn’t actually good.

The Health buff

Whenever you get two slices of lechon, he returns the other slice to the tray when you look away. They replace your glass of sweet, sweet wintermelon juice with a glass of water with a lemon wedge they probably stole from the sushi table. They think that one slice of chocolate cake is enough. Well, that’s for you to decide, right? Don’t let the health buff ruin your eating vibe. You do you, boo. You have tomorrow to worry about that extra pound.

The Utusan

The opposite of the lazy eater, the utusan is someone who gets everyone food, willingly or not. Some of them don’t really care about getting their money’s worth of food. They just take pleasure in watching their friends eat with delight. It’s like a weird live version of those “mukbang” videos on YouTube. Be thankful for the utusans, though they make our buffet experience so much more pleasurable.


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