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#22 Asian Buffets

Posted March 2nd, 2008 by Peter · 25 Comments

While we’re two posts removed from “Flied Lice,” it’s only proper to recommend a place to test out your newfound language skills. For that reason, this Sunday’s article is about Asian Buffets. Asians love a bargain whenever it may come around. However, bargains are very hard to come by in one of the wealthiest nations in the world. That is why asians go to buffets. At a buffet, asians not only get one bargain, but a multitude of bargains. So much so, that asians will return from a buffet and continue to reap the fruits of the labor days after.

Asia Buffet

When looking for a buffet, asians aren’t very picky. They never mind that they’re probably paying 12$ for soup and salad because they can realistically “eat as much as they can eat.” This is very important because when asians see something that is virtually “unlimited,” it is instantaneously a bargain. No questions asked. Sometimes, the dominant asian bargaining trait kicks in, and Asians will even heckle the turkey carver into giving them larger portions.

In the long run, it doesn’t matter, because asian buffets have, along with the traditional orange chicken, chow mein, and fried rice, a myriad of new foods you’ve probably never seen before. Foods that overshadow the obvious lack of desserts at Asian Buffets. Foods such as fried frog legs, fresh oyster, and mayonnaise shrimp have more flavor in one bite than all the food combined in a local Hometown Buffet. Asians love this food because of its savory goodness, and will try to savor the goodness even when they go home.

PurseAs one commenter said, “In the case of many asian mothers and grandmothers, buffets are places where you can also ‘grab a sweet potato, wrap it in two or three napkins, and stuff it in your purse when no one is looking.‘ ” This is the very same mother or grandmother that will tell an asian to starve themselves before going to a buffet. This allows the asian to make the most out of every dollar and maximize opportunity costs and utility.

But let’s get back to the main point of this post: bad pronunciation practice. To bet able to practice your bad pronunciation, ask one of the waiters if they know where the “fried rice” is. They will most likely answer, What? Flied Lice? Aisle 3 behind chow mein.” (Then you can ask if their daughters are going to “Stamfurt” too.) Step it up a notch and ask where the restroom is, and you will receive an answer that sounds very much like the left side of a pregnant woman’s stomach (West Womb). The main point is that asians love people who try new things. When people try to learn asian languages, they are very happy to know that there will be one more person in the world that can communicate with them. (but let’s save that for another post).

ListHere’s the breakdown: To properly go to an asian buffet, starve yourself the day of the feast. Proceed to bring at least 5 ziplock baggies. It does not matter what brand they are. Then, bring a list of common foods with R or L consonant sounds in the beginning or the end of the word (ie. fried, rabbit, lettuce, frog…) and create innovative ways to say them to the waiters. They most likely know what you’re trying to do because they’ve probably heard it before, but they won’t care. You’re learning their language, you’ve already paid, and you’re at their buffet. This is all that matters.

For a list of Great Chinese Buffets in the Southern California Area, click here.

Last 5 posts by Peter

Tags: Activities · Culture · Customs · Food & Beverage · Habits · People · Travel

25 responses so far ↓

  • 1 kvietgrl // Mar 3, 2008 at 4:34 am

    i like to eat at cafe china off of beach and chapman?

  • 2 LOL // Mar 3, 2008 at 8:02 am

    I’m not in California but my local Asian buffet is usually 80% full of Mexican customers instead of Asians.

    I haven’t noticed any of them with Ziploc baggies but they tend to load up on ice cream cones just before they leave and take them out of the restaurant with them, which according to rules you really aren’t supposed to do.

    I can attest to watching a Taiwanese woman I was eating with stuff sesame-honey buns into a plastic bag that she had in her purse. I haven’t eaten with her again, even though she did bring the lulz.

  • 3 kvietgrl // Mar 3, 2008 at 11:03 am

    my relatives like to bring home cookies like the butterfly one wrapped in napkins

  • 4 Ric // Mar 3, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    I love the part about starving ourselves first. Spot on! We are so tight that we make Jews and Scots look extravagant.

  • 5 StereoTypicalAsian // Mar 5, 2008 at 7:22 am

    I see a way more non-asians in the buffet restaurant than asians. If these buffet restaurants were for asians only, they’d go out of business long time ago. In fact, it is much more difficult to find buffet restaurants in China, Korea or Japan. The correct way to put this is that asians like to make money off of gluttons.

  • 6 Giun Sun // Mar 5, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Great post, as a testament to Asians and buffets….I goto a buffet every week or so!

    Good idea for a blog too….stuff that Asians like, haha.

  • 7 KK // Mar 8, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Hahahaha oh gawd. I do have standards though :-) . But wait until you people eat at a buffet in Taiwan. Your $20 goes even further over there…

  • 8 tvoh // Mar 8, 2008 at 7:42 am

    As a non asian who would love buffets. I have a question. Why all the msg in the food? For me it is a trigger for a migraine.

    I know of a couple of places that don’t use it in their food, but they are expensive and not close.

    Nancy Chang’s in Worcester, MA is great, but pricy and Amherst Chinese (Amchi) does not have a buffet is also great, but does not have a buffet.

  • 9 johnk // Mar 8, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    @tvoh: because msg tastes good. Why do people blame msg on Chinese restaurants, when the big source of American MSG is snack foods like Doritos.

    Real Asian food doesn’t need added MSG. The ingredients in the food, like fish sauce, soy sauce, meats, mushrooms, tofu, beans, and nuts, all contain some naturally occurring msg. Adding powdered msg just increases these flavors.

  • 10 wongfu // Mar 8, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    I’d have to agree that Asian buffet’s are catered more towards non-Asians out for a cultural experience.

    However, all you can eat sushi?? You’ll find lots of us there. And that, I’ll starve myself for :)

  • 11 Katie Zhu // Mar 11, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    lol, it’s like a weddings. We eat….take a break…..and then eat again.

  • 12 YASPY Chick // Mar 13, 2008 at 6:07 am


    MSG is in soy sauce naturally.

  • 13 Arthur // Mar 21, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    I’m disappointed that you mixed the buffet entry with the mispronunciation issue. There’s *so much* more you could’ve written about the art of Asian buffet eating itself!

    You mentioned starving oneself before the buffet meal, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. At the actual meal, it is considered extremely poor form to take items such as plain white rice, fried rice (flied lice), chow mein, or any other foods which are normally very cheap. Again, this goes to the point (which you brought up) about getting the most out of that $12 flat fee. Anything that is normally inexpensive is strictly off limits. Even more so if it is a particularly filling food (such as fried rice) which will make you full too quickly.

    Rather, Asians are expected to gorge themselves on more expensive dishes such as lobster, crab, and shrimp.

    Food is to be consumed until one is just shy of requiring a wheelchair to leave the restaurant.

    Furthermore, Asians lose all sense of etiquette at buffets. Long lines of customers will develop for a popular item that is awaiting restock (such as lobster), much like camping for concert tickets.

    And, to throw in a stereotype: As an added bonus, buffets also appeal to Asians because it is widely considered acceptable to leave smaller tips at buffets.

  • 14 Phong // Mar 22, 2008 at 7:31 am

    You forgot seafood buffets, especially at casinos.

  • 15 angela // Jun 1, 2008 at 11:46 am

    lol! we always stock up on napkin wrapped foods. and anytime I get rice or fried rice my mom says Im so stupid cause its so cheap. She tries to make me get crab or lobster or something.

    I was born and raised in SoCal but recently moved to Dallas and all Asian buffets here are packed with Mexicans! it blew my mind! soo unlike Cali! but most ppl here r Viet so its same as CA in the Pho places except you’ll stumble into a interracial couple with a eurasian baby or a bunch of white ppl with one asian guy.

  • 16 dbals // Jan 5, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    I was stunned when I first visited a chinese buffet in US. Whats up with the 50 dish/60 dish chinese buffets organized in multiple lanes. You need to bring a GPS to locate a particular dish or be good at taking directions like “Take a right and go straight until you see the lobster and make a left there, it’s the third dish next to the sushi”
    And the sad thing is, being a vegetarian, I can have only 2 or 3 of those 50 dishes. Got me frustrated. Good that I eat egg, otherwise I would have starved on that 50 dish buffet. It’s also the first and the only place where I saw an octopus dish. I didn’t knew until then that people ate octopuses.

  • 17 Anonymous // May 9, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Who eats fried rice in a restaurant? Being an Asian, I’ve been thought by my friends/parents not to do that – the starch is too filling and you can’t eat anything more. Eat the expensive stuff like the clams, sashimi (NOT sushi, there’s rice in sushi) and lobster/prawns/crabs! Frogs are nice though (they taste like chicken).

    Besides that in a buffet restaurant we have been taught to bring things inside, such as card games, PSPs and whatnot to the dinner to play so that the stomach can ‘digest’ the food slowly before going to get the n-th helping, so that we don’t fill ourselves too quickly.

  • 18 got-rice // Oct 11, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Asian buffets are pretty gross IMO. Don’t ever go to Todai for lunch, it’s just the leftovers from the night before.

    Someone mentioned that at Asian buffets, many of the patrons aren’t Asian (or Chinese, since most of the buffets are owned by them). That is true, since many Chinese end up opening buffets in non-Asian areas. For those in So Cal, these buffets do well in areas with Latinos.

    I for one don’t care for food since the cooking sucks. I’d rather go to Souplantation (the white person in me), where it seems that a lot of the patrons are Asian as well, because they have discount coupons all the time.

  • 19 polka_dots35 // Nov 2, 2009 at 2:37 am

    Haha!!! My family practices ‘the starve yourselves for the whole day before going to a buffet’ thing. In fact, I’m the one who reminds everybody in my family to starve.

  • 20 Yadira // Aug 20, 2011 at 8:51 am

    love the Asian Buffets

  • 21 ilovehorseyrides // Jun 9, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    Not all Asians like buffets…

    My family doesn’t eat much so they feel like they’re not getting their money’s worth whenever we eat at buffets.

    I’m going to a buffet in Vegas this weekend and my family is all like “Ai-yah, why u go to buffet in Vegas, so expensive and food no taste good”. I’m considering the Mirage buffet since it’s cheap…

  • 22 ilovehorseyrides // Aug 8, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    I ate at Cravings (the Mirage buffet) at Vegas on Sunday, June 14. My mom, sister, and aunt only ate about 3-5 plates each. I am the only 1 who ate over 6 plates. They thought the food was not real good and that it was too expensive ( about $38 a person for dinner). The food’s actually really good!!! (I wish there was more variety of food, though). For my next trip (unknown when), my aunt suggested we should try the buffet at the M Resort…

  • 23 ilovehorseyrides // Aug 13, 2015 at 7:07 am

    My family also starves themselves before a buffet, except in Vegas, when we had a HUGE lunch about 4-5 hours before eating at the Mirage. Lesson learned, never again. LOL

  • 24 ilovehorseyrides // Aug 13, 2015 at 7:09 am

    My mom told me that I should avoid the egg foo young because she believed that only black people eats that. I don’t care what she thinks, I eat it anyway. Egg foo young is GOOD!!! :)

  • 25 ilovehorseyrides // Aug 16, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    Asian buffets are a popular hotspot with Chinese tour groups in the US. Every time they go on a tour group, the tour guide will stop at a Chinese buffet AT LEAST ONCE OR TWICE. On a trip to Tennessee with an Chinese tour group, my family and I ate at 3 different Chinese buffets. THREE!!!!

    Also if you’re going to Vegas with one of these tour groups, forget about the nice buffets at one off the casinos. They won’t take you there. Instead they will take you to a cheap Asian buffet in Henderson.

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