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Image: Kit Khong

The 12 Unspoken Rules That You Should Not Break At A Buffet

You’d think that by now, we would know how to work a hotel buffet like a pro. But here’s a refresher course for those of us who turn boorish when we are hangry.

1. Do not jump the queue

Sure, there isn’t a formal queue at a restaurant buffet (unless it’s a wedding or company function one where everyone starts lining up at about the same time). But you should never elbow your way to a food station and slot yourself in between the two people who are already there.

2. Use the serving tongs and spoons

There’s a reason why they are there – to keep things hygienic. So, don’t use your grubby little fingers to pick up that tempura prawn or that ondeh ondeh. And don’t let your children do so either. It’s also a no-no to use the curry chicken ladle to pick up stir-fried cabbage from the next tray.

3. Place them back in the right spot

Don’t chuck the salad tongs on the cheese platter or leave the soup ladle on the sushi tray. You don’t want to be the culprit behind any cross-contamination.

4. Do not make a mess of the stations

You wouldn’t drip tomato ketchup or drop pasta strands on your kitchen counter, would you?

5. Take what you’ve touched

If you use your fingers to pick up a bun or some fruit, make sure you take it with you and eat it. Nobody wants to eat what your dirty hands have touched, puh-leese.

6. Do not sneeze, cough, yawn or burp

It’s basic manners not to expel gross bodily sounds and fluids onto the food stations.

7. Wear the right clothing and accessories

Not on the dress code: Long flowy sleeves and big jangly bracelets that dip themselves into the trays and pots of food.

8. Eat only at your table

And not while you are still picking up your food along the way.

9. Use a clean plate for round 2 and more

While you may be a good-hearted person who doesn’t want the back-end staff to wash too many bowls and plates, you also don’t want to be the unhygienic diner who fishes fresh food onto your gravy-smudged plate.

10. Do not over-customise your omelette

Or your noodle soup. Or your rojak. Or anything that has a chef-on-demand at the station. Paying $58++ for a buffet brunch doesn’t give you the right to make life hard for him or her by asking for “an omelette with the yolk of one egg but the whites of two eggs, with a bit of cheese, lots of bacon, two cubes of pineapple and only the orange bell peppers.”

11. Do not hog the expensive stations

It’s human nature to skip the heavy carbs at a buffet and feast only on posh nosh like lobsters, roast beef and sashimi. But don’t hog these stations and lug back all the good stuff the moment they replenish the platters. Other diners also paid good money to eat some of it, you know.

12. Do not secretly doggy bag food home

Most buffets have a strict policy of not allowing diners to take away unfinished food. So, don’t do it under the table(cloth) literally by filling your own Tupperware boxes with food for tomorrow’s breakfast, lunch and dinner at home.

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