The trouble with ‘all you can eat’ deals

Published: August 28, 2010

The amount of food consumed in iftar deal is sick

They got it wrong again.

This happens every Ramazan. Every upscale eating place in Pakistan starts advertising their “all you can eat” offers. I think it’s a poor choice of words. It should be “All you want to eat”.

Brings back memories of when we used to say stuff like “Teacher, can I go to drink water?” and they would scold us and tell us that it should be “May I go to drink water?” I can do a lot of things. Like leap off a building, for example. But the things I can do and the things I want to do are not the same things.

I can eat 10 slices of pizza. But I don’t want to. Not even eight. I’m good with four, thank you ver much.

All-you-can-eat affairs have become proving grounds for Pakistanis of all ages. It’s a race against the clock (and the bladder) to devour as much food as possible. It stopped being a pleasurable experience a long time ago. Now it’s just a sick, consumerist challenge that warps our sense of value.

‘Gotta make it count,’ we think to ourselves. Have to extract as much value out of this deal as we can. Nevermind utility, we’re out to get even! Every time we go to one of these places, we’re doing all these mental calculations on how much we should eat to have made it a good ‘deal’ when we’re stepping out. It’s man against math out here. Irrational as it may seem, we’re so obsessed with this sort of behaviour that we’ll continue eating serving after serving  just so that we have the mental satisfaction of knowing that we’ve had more food than we paid for.

Unfortunately, with the rising prices, it seems unlikely that we’ll do that much damage. I’m completely full about 6 minutes after iftar, no matter what I’m munching on. At Rs600 per head at your run-of-the-mill all-you-can-eat places, that’s a Rs100 a minute worth of food. At that price, the pizza better be damn good. But it’s not.

I’ve seen people scrape the layers off a pizza and discard the crusts because that seems to be a waste of stomach space. Hey, if you paid Rs600 just to eat cheese, you could’ve just bought a big bar from the superstore and saved yourself the money and the trouble.


Umair Kazi

A strategist who blogs at

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Abdul Basit

    bht aalaRecommend

  • Afia Jamal

    Haha interesting read! I a m also against these all you can deals .I can never eat more than 3 slices even if I want to .. I guess boys mostly benefit from these sort of deals. I have seen people devouring as much as 14 slices. I believe this year when millions in our own country are dying out of starvation , we should boycott these deals and contribute that money towards flood relief rather.Recommend

  • Mariam

    you are so right! havent you ever tried stealing the chicken wings and drum sticks? :) i say all is fair in love and “all you can eat” deals. :) Recommend

  • Aamina

    Took the words right out of my mouth! Brilliant! ‘All you can eat’ deals are a total waste of money. I’d never be able to go for one with a clean conscience. Recommend

  • Hashmat Ali
  • anon.

    The sum total of people in the world and the sum total of food available for them is absolutely in balance however, it is deals likes these and attitudes like those which disrupt this holy balance and Africa emerges!Recommend

  • Shahzeb Abdali

    @ Afia Jamal: I wish there was a like option in front of your comment just like we have on facebook :)
    That is exactly what needs to be done and Pakistani government should ask these multinational food chains to come forward and donate generously. All these years they have been earning from Pakistan. It is high time they prove that they are with Pakistanis in their tough times as well!Recommend

  • Samreen A.Khan

    absolutely right!….we all should think of this!Recommend

  • Asim

    The phrase ‘All You Can Eat’ has chosen to make up your mind that it doesn’t matter how worst it baked , how less the chicken pieces in it , your flavor is available or not but you have to eat without distinguishing and blindly :) Recommend

  • Amad Joseph

    That is the earning part of the business, give the eaters to indulge in one time binge eating and scrap out some profits with it. With the quality standards looming in these deals , i guess next Ramadan they should come out with something new and tasteful.Recommend

  • Hamza

    The idea is to bring a bag along with u, keep one lookout and stuff as many slices as u can in the bag. :) Happy stealing. So much for the spirit of Ramzan.Recommend

  • maryam zahoor

    I can’t agree with you more. we have totally forgotten the utility we deserve!

    i have heard somewhere that out of all animals, man is the only one that overeats.. the rest know how they should go about with food.

    humans can be fooled, the irony is that they fool their own species! :/Recommend

  • Umair Kazi

    Afia! Don’t pin it on us guys only! Although I do know a guy who executed the ‘perfect’ trip to an all-you-can-eat affair with the help of Hajmola and timed visits to the restroom.Recommend

  • Umair Kazi

    Mariam & Hamza.. yeah I also knew a guy who tried to sneak out a couple of slices in his bag for late night munching. Damn, I’m beginning to think maybe Afia is right about this guy thing!
    Mariam.. I wish I could change the title of this post to what you wrote.. “All’s fair in love and All-you-can-eat!”
    Hamza, maybe the bag in question is our stomach, yea?Recommend

  • Umair Kazi

    @Everybody else: Yeah, the whole hype around such deals is overrated. It’s highway robbery in the name of Ramadan deals! Such is the big bad world of marketing, reinforced by our constant obsession for maximizing value-for-money. Thanks for reading! Recommend

  • shobz

    I agree with what you have written. I am not a fan of all you can eat deals as they are a waste of money and the quality of food is sub-standard. The last time I opted for an all you can eat iftar was in 2001. These outlets make a killing and we never get what we want to eat. Recommend

  • Humanity

    Looks like the deluge went over the heads of the people who can think of only whether they want to eat it all or can eat it all ..
    The Pakistanis just don’t get it. Shameless!Recommend

  • madiha hafeez

    true….these deals are waste of money plus they left you with dissatisfaction that you haven’t eaten enough for the money you have paid….but still these outlets are very popular among people and they remain full during the whole month of ramazanRecommend

  • nasir khan



    party planner in karachiRecommend

  • SS

    One way ticket to obesity. All Pakistan needs is to add this to their ‘laurels’. Adopt the attitude of food and its consumption from the West and make yourselves slaves to your physical being and sacrifice the emotional/spiritual being…..Recommend

  • Deen

    Once upon a time, I believe up until 2001-2, the quality of food in these all you can eat deals was actually decent. In the last 12 months, a lot of restaurants in Karachi, even outside these Ramadan only Iftar deals have declined substantially in quality of food they have on offer. The biggest let off’s (not this ramzan though) are the buffet restaurants in these 5 star hotels (with the exception of Avari), Sky-rocket per head prices and below average quality of food.Recommend

  • Mawali

    Eating Pizza at iftar? I guess Pakistani’s are in a constant quest for dubious distinctions. Perhaps you can collectively make it the book by being the most obese nation in the World. Hey it’s something. I encourge every mal=nutritioned anoraxic pakistani to reach for the hieghts in the battle for the “Bulge”Recommend

  • SS

    Welcome to the world of being skinny and yet having high cholesterol! Mutant gene in the ‘East-Indian/desi’ community. Maybe now we need to invite our flood refugee brethren to these all-you-can-eat! Maybe those of you who are living locally in Karachi can mobilize even the left over foods of these ‘name-brand restaurants’ to some of these refugee camps. Mobilize some transportation companies to take the foods across to the already established tent villages of these refugees.Recommend

  • Abeer Khan

    I think, ‘all you “cannot” eat’ should be the slogan instead. Ramadan is a month of abstinence and worship, not one about stuffing yourself up with food till you puke and have space for more. Pathetic the way people deal with month. Rather give away the extra money in charity and have a humble meal at home. Besides, what sort of an example are we setting for non-Muslims, when we give way to the evil of gluttony during the most holiest of our months.Recommend

  • Sanya

    Hey, if you paid Rs600 just to eat cheese, you could’ve just bought a big bar from the superstore and saved yourself the money and the trouble.