Bim Adewunmi, guardian.co.uk, Modified: April 19, 2013 16:56 IST
It happened to two men in Brighton recently, so I decided to try my luck in London.
It takes special skills to get banned from an all-you-can-eat buffet, but that's what George Dalmon and Andy Miles managed this week in a Brighton restaurant. The pair were called "a couple of pigs" and banned for life for eating too much. But how much is too much? And is it easy to get thrown out of an all-you-can-eat? I went to London's Chinatown to find out.
Mr Wu is a popular tourist spot, inviting punters to "Eat As Much As You Like". I fill my plate with everything on offer: spring rolls, noodles, curry, egg fried rice, beef in black bean sauce, chicken wings, chips. Twenty minutes later, I return. I repeat my previous order, subbing curry with sweet and sour sauce.
An hour in, I get a disconcerted look from a waiter, glancing at my stacked plate. I ask for tap water. They don't serve tap water. I head back to the buffet for round three. With my ban looking ever more distant, I jump the queue and take just the choice cuts. I return to my table, chewing manfully.
All my original fellow diners have gone. My new neighbours, an elderly couple, appear to be all-you-can-eat pros. "They don't serve tap water," the woman notes to her companion. "I'll have the soup as a hot drink, then!" she laughs.
An hour and a half has passed. I am on the verge of throwing up. I put another chip in my mouth. Almost three hours in, I have a fourth round: just chips. Still, the staff say nothing. I have stopped eating, taking relief in my notebooks and phone. The waiter walks over. "Hello," he says. "Are you finished?" "Um, yes," I reply sheepishly. He takes my plate away, but there's no pressure to leave. At least 30 patrons have come in and left since I have been here. In a final push, I get a fresh plate for round five. The waitress smiles at me. These people are saints.
I crack. What do I have to do to get kicked out of here? "We don't kick people out, ever," says Cruz, Mr Wu's genial manager. Chinese people like to take their time when they're eating, so we don't rush people."What if I had carried on eating? "It does say to eat as much as you like," he says. I crawl to the exit: "See you soon!" Cruz calls. I can barely muster a wave.
Bim Adewunmi gets one last plate of food. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian