For the past five years of my life I’ve participated in a tradition that has become near and dear to me. For the past five years, my birthday celebrations have involved food – a lot of it. This tradition has become such an integral part of my life that I’ve decided to dedicate a post to it.
All-You-Can-Eat, more commonly (or affectionately) known as AYCE, is something people either love or despise. Generally, the people who despise it are those who can’t do AYCEs right. You see, there’s a trick to ensuring you leave AYCEs without the urge to throw up all your hard work over the course of 90 minutes. There are ways you can leave without regret, without feeling like an overzealous glutton, and without uttering “oh dear baby jebus, why did I do that!? I am never going to another AYCE in my life!” Except that 6 months down the line you’ll likely go again…and make the same mistakes yet again. So here are some tips from the wise, my friends. Tips from a well-trained AYCE-er. Take note, practice, and you, too, can become a master AYCE-er.
- Do your research. Scope out those Yelp reviews and see what others have to say about it. This is an obvious one, but the market is saturated with AYCEs and I want you to eat at the best one out there. So again, do your research. My Toronto favourites are Chako and Sushi D.
- Most AYCEs have a time limit and they’re generally 90-120 minutes. This is definitely plenty of time to get a good session in but if you come across anything that’s less than that then stay away. You’ll end up stuffing yourself silly to try to get in as much as possible and that experience just isn’t going to be pleasant.
- Speak up! AYCE places are not good for those who are polite and stay quiet to try to appease everyone. If there’s something that’s being ordered that you’re not a fan of, let everyone know. Most AYCE policies state that you need to pay for whatever is left over, so if you let everyone know don’t want something you won’t have the pressure of helping everyone else finish up whatever’s left over.
- Going along the same lines of point #3, if only 50% of your group want something let the server know. In some cases, when you order a dish and there are, for example, 10 of you, you’ll get enough of that dish for all 10 people. But if only 5 of you want it then let the server know you just want enough for 5 people. Saying this will cover your back and most importantly, you won’t need to stuff yourself with something you don’t like.
- Try a bit of something before you do some ape-shit ordering. The edamame beans at one place may not be as good as another so do a bit of taste-testing before you jump right into ordering 10 servings of it!
- Filling up on sushi is…I’m sorry, but it’s stupid. Get sashimi!!! It’s much better bang for your buck and you won’t end up wasting stomach space on rice. Unless, of course, there are certain fish you can only get with sushi.
- Keep a dish aside for “garbage”. This dish is where you’ll deposit empty edamame bean peels, bones from your Korean short ribs, and the shrimp tails from your tempura. This is also the plate where you will discard any leftover food you couldn’t finish. Hide this food under the real garbage and your server won’t bat an eye. If, for some reason, you ordered way too much food (*tsk tsk* control yourself!!!) then enter emergency plan – teapot exit. Make sure you’ve drank all the tea you want because the rest of the food is going to go in here. It’s only to be used as a last resort and this isn’t a tactic I really want to promote.
- SAVE ROOM FOR DESSERT!!! Most places come with an amazing selection of delicious ice creams and other desserts. No AYCE is complete without dessert…make sure you’ve got enough room for a happy ending
This concludes my AYCE 101 tutorial. If there’s anything you think I’ve missed please let me know and I’ll be happy to add that to the list.