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Ever feel guilty about eating too much at a buffet or all-you-can-eat?

...and I don't meant just regarding the waistline. I was at a mom-and-pop Asian buffet place, which included sushi (16 different rolls!), for just seven dollars for lunch. But there, and at other buffet places here in economically down Charleston, SC, I discover that owners/workers seem to be monitoring what you eat, always looking at your plate, and they don't remove used plates so you see them stacking up in front of you like a reminder of how much you have taken. I think they try to guilt you into not eating as much as you want. I could *completely* go to town on tasty all-you-can-eat sushi for seven dollars (not to mention the other food they have), going back numerous times to eat a very large amount...but I would feel guilty, and probably get nasty looks from the workers...can they even ask you to leave because you are eating too much? Or should I not care and just eat as much as I want, no matter how large it may become?

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  1. I don't feel guilty about eating too much, but I do sometimes feel the need to clean my plate even when one or more of the food items isn't any good- which is often the case with ayce buffets. But all it ever really takes is just a glance around the dining room to see how much other people have left on *their* plates, and then I don't feel guilty at all!


    Some of the casinos around here have started hiring people from Africa to work in the dining rooms. After so many years of seeing all of the starvation that goes on in certain countries over there, I do feel some guilt when I see people leaving a table with so much leftover food on it that it would feed a village for a week!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Clarkafella

      I concur with the "clean your plate" thing. I've seen places that have signs up to that effect (although I doubt they'd enforce it). Other than that, I don't think anyone should feel guilty - it is up to the owners to set pricing such that they make a profit.

    2. Quite the opposite. I feel like it's a waste of my time, since I don't generally eat enough at one sitting to justify going to one of these places.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jmckee

        Seven bucks for a meal is wasting your time? If you ate in a place that charged you ten bucks for a sandwich or salad only, would that be wasting your time too? I never imagined a person's time and the amount of food he or she could consume correlated into to a customer's enjoyment of overall satisfaction. I always thought it had to do with quality and value received.

        There's no rule to say you have to try everything....only take what you can eat and not waste any food.

      2. Maybe but it doesnt stop me from stuffing myself silly...

        Speaking of which where is this $7 all you can eat place exactly?

        1. I'd be more worried about the quality of the sushi that comes from a place that is only seven dollars for all you can eat..

          4 Replies
          1. re: Humbucker

            I'm sure you get exactly what you pay for.

              1. re: Humbucker

                Tastes pretty awesome to me...it's not nigiri, just rolls.

                1. re: Humbucker

                  I agree about that, and I think I would feel very uncomfortable if they were watching everyone. That's not an enjoyable environment to eat in!

                2. My only peeve is that (since you can't take it home) these buffets make you throw out perfectly good food that you just can't possibly finish (eyes bigger than stomach, which usually happens to me, unless I'm very careful!) We just went to a buffet Indian restaurant today, and my sister piled her plate high - then couldn't finish it and had to waste a ton of food. There was a sign at this particular place that said: "To keep food costs down, please do not take more food than you can eat." (But I guess my sister didn't heed that warning!)

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Morticia

                    You're blaming the restaurants for people taking too much food and then having to throw it out? Isn't that the customer's responsibility not to take too much?

                    1. re: Morticia

                      >>"these buffets make you throw out perfectly good food that you just can't possibly finish"<<

                      Yeah, I hate it when they do that. They hold a gun to your head and force you to pile more and more food onto your plate. Terrible, just terrible. At least they don't ask you to take personal responsibility for your actions.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        "They hold a gun to your head and force you to pile more and more food onto your plate."

                        This is exactly why I have stopped going to AYCE buffets. I am afraid of guns, being a lily-livered Canuck....

                        But seriously, I do have this tendency to eat whatever is on my plate, and I don't like feeling unwell when I try to finish every bite on my plate. I have had to stop going to AYCE places. I want to try everything, but I hate having to finish it all. It was no longer a good experience. Plus the yield on good vs. bad dishes was quite low, there is a lot of 'meh' for very little "awesome'. Guess I am finally learning in my old age...

                      2. re: Morticia

                        I see your point about the frustration. (Why throw it away when you'll be perfectly happy to take it home and eat it as leftovers the next day?) However, from a business perspective, if this was the case, what would stop people from eating until they are full and then going to the buffet one more time to pile as much food on their plate as possible, sitting down and asking for a doggie bag?

                      3. If it is all you can eat... then take what you can eat and not more. Better to go up 2 or 3 times with small portions each time. The workers probably are monitoring waste. I personally wouldn't feel guilty. After all, the resto sets the price, not the customer, and I don't think they can ask you to leave for eating too much, as long as you are eating.

                        1. Take all you want......eat all you take!!!

                          1. it has been mentioned up thread, but "cheap" "discount" and "buffet" are three words I NEVER want to see in front of "sushi". *shudder*

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: nkeane

                              These places may change your mind.....



                              For the record, I am not suggesting it is the best sushi....only do not discount the quality and value. There are bad places and some that are better.....to each his or her own.

                              1. re: fourunder

                                well, to be fair the OP was suggesting a price of $7 for a buffet, not the 30$(for dinner) of the restaurants you have suggested. big difference.
                                what I was saying was that Sushi isnt something I feel like I need to get a bargain at. Its a special occasion food, and I am willing to pay for the best. That comes at a sushi-ya where I can converse with the Itamae, order specials, see it prepared as I order it, and all around have a good time. That doesnt include piling in dried out buffet fish till I feel that my $/lb of food consumed has gotten to a level that makes it worth it.

                                1. re: nkeane

                                  Most of the sushi that I have seen at ayce Chinese buffets are simple rolls. If there is ANY fish in them it is usually a small piece of surimi or tuna in a spicy or California roll. I don't expect amazing nigiri.

                            2. I shouldn't ever feel guilty, because I don't eat meat and therefore almost always eat the cheapest stuff at the buffet. However, I am one of those people who will go up to the buffet ten times, each time filling just a quarter of my plate. And I pause between plates. I just like to eat a little bit at a time, and I know people think I'm a huge pig because I keep going back again and again and again...

                              The one place I don't feel guilty or embarrassed is in the Pacific Buffet on B.C. Ferries (Vancouver to Victoria). For some reason, I feel like it's my moral duty to recoup my nineteen dollars and more.

                              1. You know who should feel guilty? Those people who wait until they bring out the crab legs and then go rushing up and taking all the good ones from the steam table before I get a chance to get any. Thats who should feel guilty.

                                1. I spend enough time asking myself if I'm "doing the right thing" in life just for this sort of question. And I'd certainly moderate my instinct to "chow down" for my own health's sake.

                                  But beyond that, if any restaurateur goes into the AYCE business thinking people won't over-consume, he's fooling himself.

                                  We've all heard stories about the family (always the "other guys", never us) who grab all the crab legs as soon as they're bought out. Or the people who pile their plates high multiple times ... and look like it's a daily habit. It's the gol-durned public, and AYCE buffets bring them out of the woodwork.

                                  However, any restaurant where the owner and/or staff scrutinize how much I'm eating, and let me become aware of it, has seen the last of me, for good.

                                  1. Yep......while I am by no means a snow crab gabber, at southern home cooking buffets i often sneak back up for "one more little piece of fried chicken" and then need another spoonful of mac and cheese and then one more spoonful of greens and then one more biscuit etc. etc. and so forth. You can see where this is going

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: steakman55

                                      It is crazy how quickly those little spoonfuls add up! It looks so small at the time... Then suddenly - Whammo! The food coma hits, and you've crossed that line to tummy discomfort. Often, it is something as harmless looking as a dribble of sausage gravy.

                                    2. The only time I have ever felt guilty for the reason you are stating is when I hiked the Appalachian Trail, My hiker friends and I would be half starved and then we would reach a town, head for the AYCE places and practically clean them out.

                                      Nowadays I feel guilty at buffets because I overeat and I feel guilty because almost always the food is not as good or as high of qualityt. The food is almost always overly greasy, oversalted, overcooked, filled with cheap ingredients, etc. I'd rather eat out less frequently but at nicer places - better use of my time and money.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Jitterbug

                                        "The only time I have ever felt guilty for the reason you are stating is when I hiked the Appalachian Trail, My hiker friends and I would be half starved and then we would reach a town, head for the AYCE places and practically clean them out."

                                        That sounds like a lot of fun...

                                        1. re: Jitterbug

                                          Yeah, my husband and I hit a new-ish restaurant for Sunday brunch one time after a long, cold bike ride. It was fantastic and we ate like pigs. I didn't feel guilty at all because it was just a few minutes before closing and I assumed the food would otherwise go to waste. But...the next time we went there they had menu-only for brunch and the owner made some comment that let me know she remembered us!!

                                          When my husband was a 280 pound powerlifter as well as a poor college student trying to "keep his weight up" he and his buddies used to frequent some scary-ass buffets. He still talks about both the size of the other patrons and the looks he and his friends would get from employees.

                                        2. while i never eat at ayce places, if i did i wouldnt feel guilty at all. they are the ones setting up an ayce system, not i. if they didn't want you to eat all you could they shouldn't call it all you can eat.

                                          (reminds me of simpsons episode)

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: thew

                                            Does this look like a man who has eaten all that he can eat?

                                          2. I've been to a decent AYCE sushi bar (not AYCE only, just an option at lunch) in Seattle where they charge you extra for anything you order and don't eat.

                                            14 Replies
                                            1. re: saeyedoc

                                              I have been to an AYCE sushi place in Toronto that has that same policy.

                                              1. re: Sooeygun

                                                I certainly endorse the concept, but enforcement would be fraught with friction. Hopefully it is a forceful reminder to take only what you will eat.

                                                1. re: Sooeygun

                                                  How DO they enforce this? Weigh what's not eaten? Anyone seen it enforced?
                                                  A workaround would be to put leftovers in a baggie and take them, but that's against the rules, too, I suppose. I can see them cleaning up and there's all this food under the tables where there are booths... then they eliminate booths and add cameras.
                                                  A new dining concept that's like Cops and Robbers?

                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                    I have never seen it enforced. Maybe the warning is enough to make people aware of what they are ordering. Oh, and I should clarify, the place I go to isn't a buffet. It's AYCE, but you order items from a small menu.

                                                    I believe the rule applies only to the sushi rolls. You can order by the rolls by the piece and as many times as you want, so there is really no reason to order more than you can eat. There is also no reason to order a large number of pieces if you aren't sure you don't like them.

                                                    1. re: Sooeygun

                                                      The place I was referring to was not a buffet, you ordered things off of a set list.

                                                    2. re: Scargod

                                                      I've never seen it enforced, but it did make me think of this story that was in the news a while back.


                                                      1. re: iluvtennis

                                                        iluv, I chuckled when I first saw that story, but I felt bad for Li Shang because the restaurant lost money 30 or so times in a row when those corpulent hoovers camped out there. Casinos can ban card counters; why should any business cater to patrons if they are guaranteed to lose money? Maybe the answer for AYCE's is to have a customer door about a foot wide. If you can't fit through it, you are SOL.

                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                          I love that idea! Like the fixture the airlines have for checking the size of your carry-on luggage.
                                                          Still, in the early '70's I used to do the Zuider Zee seafood buffet in Dallas. I was six foot and 140 pounds. I had 'hollow legs" back then. I once ate 6-1/2 dozen raw oysters and a lot of cooked seafood and desserts. The manager asked that we stop hogging the oysters. I got more than my money's worth.

                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                            Hee Hee, Ricky Gervais was just talking about this idea on the Daily Show. Small doors as a way to lose weight, and junk food in grocery stores being kept in a small room with a small door.

                                                          2. re: iluvtennis

                                                            I grew up in Atlanta in the 50s/60s. There was an AYCE fried catfish place. The price was $1.25 (must have been the 50s!) A bunch of Georgia Tech football players came there (it was WAY outside of Atlanta) and ate and ate and ate. Finally the owner came over and said "That's ALL YOU CAN EAT." Fifty years later I still remember that.

                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              I knew a rugby team that got kicked out of an AYCE place.

                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                So they can kick you out...I suppose that is legal anyway...they can refuse service to anyone, right?

                                                                1. re: observor

                                                                  Friend of mine was dining at an AYCE casino buffet and a security guard went to a table of 6 people and kicked them out because they had camera footage of the lady in the party stuffing 14 huge slices of prime rib into her purse.

                                                                  I went to the same buffet this week and it was fantastic....featuring Maine lobster, king crab, raw oysters, shrimp and prime rib, Free to first time players club sign ups. Even though the king crab legs are fully cooked you could bring a plate full to the Asian section and they'll stir fry them for you...had some terrific chili crab.

                                                                  What I thought was wasteful was one of the pastry chefs was bringing huge plates of the stir fried king crab legs to some regular customers unsolicited. Don't know if he was looking for a tip or what, but so much crab a normal person couldn't have eaten the plate fulls he was bringing. I would have fired him if I was managing the place.

                                                            2. re: Scargod

                                                              Cameras UNDER the table? That conjures up thoughts of many things - and nothing to do with crab claws :)

                                                        2. Even though it is just 7 dollars, I have to say the sushi is pretty tasty...it's just rolls, no nigiri. This place just opened, so maybe they are just trying to get business. I feel like I could eat a huge amount. The other dishes are tasty, but I wonder about the quality, personally.

                                                          1. ayce crabs usually have a time limit of 2 hours in my neck of the woods

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: cocoagirl

                                                              It's my observation that people who go to a buffet or an AYCE rarely worry or experience guilt about eating or taking too much. Most I've seen act like sharks during a feeding frenzy.

                                                              1. re: markabauman

                                                                EXACTLY. If you act like a starving gluutonous asshole you may get thrown out, and you should. If that bothers you don't make such a pig of yourself. The AYCE places aren't training grounds for competitive eaters. For that you have to pay or get a sponsor.

                                                            2. I seem to have an extra stomach when it comes to things like sushi. That said, I can't say i've ever felt guilty at a AYCE, but I almost always leave WAY too full. It's more the selection, than the fact that I can pile my plate and no one will bat an eye or that it's "free". Left Commensal in Montreal the same way when I visited, and those are weighed/priced plates. If I went to a restaurant anywhere and they told me, hey, order a bit of everything and we'll fit it on your plate, i'd probably do the same thing. I have a real hard time making my mind up in restaurants. It's also coincidentally, why I love tapas or other small plates.

                                                              I rarely go though, and when I do, it's an old haunt back home that I rarely see anyway. There is an indian place back home and I love their buffet. Usually I do pakoras, soup, and then a main plate run. I admit I have gone back for the soup more than once. For a buffet, it is mighty fine, and a great price.

                                                              1. I tend to try one of everything (or a small portion) small plate at a time, and then if I find I like something, I might stock up next time. I use the same plate when applicable.

                                                                1. I have to admit, I hate it when the staff stare at your plates, or stare at you while you eat. It is rude and unnerving. My son is autistic and buffets are great because we can eat immediately. HOWEVER, my son hates to be stared at while eating and will sometimes become very upset and start stimming himself. I once had to tell the manager if the server did not stop staring at my son I would make a scene. My son does not eat a lot, nor does he eat the expensive foods, but I admit I do. I feel we even it out. But that is EXTREMELY RUDE to stare.

                                                                  1. I assume everyone here has seen and read this:


                                                                    The all inclusive all you can eat buffet guide.

                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                        That's one of the best read I have had in a while.....thanks.

                                                                        1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                          The author covered all the bases except about using the bathroom while at the buffet and where to find the toothpicks. I don't agree with his tipping advice...$1/hour/diner. I recommend 10% minimum.
                                                                          Definitely an overweight guy with too much time on his hands and no guilt when he's visiting a buffet.

                                                                          1. re: monku

                                                                            Ok, I know this is probably stupid, but they have rules for the bathroom? I try desperately not to use bathrooms while in any restaurant (or any public place for that matter) But they have "rules"?

                                                                            1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                              No rules for using the bathroom. But the first rule for reading a post like monku's is to ask yourself whether the writer is being entirely serious, or maybe making a joke.

                                                                          2. re: Atahualpa

                                                                            Who made him the buffet etiquette master?

                                                                          3. >>> Ever feel guilty about eating too much at a buffet or all-you-can-eat?

                                                                            Hmmmmmm, the only buffets that I have been to that have decent food charge enough that I could never feel guilty. All the other buffets should feel guilty about the crap they are serving us.