Buffets In Thailand Look So Different From The Ones In America

Navigating your way around an unfamiliar country can be pretty daunting for some world travelers. Yet, for others, it's an exciting opportunity to experience an unfamiliar culture. For TikTok user Tom from Texas, adventuring his way through Thailand's buffet scene was a bit of both. He quickly discovered that he had a lot to learn upon visiting a hot pot-style buffet during his trip. Buffets in Thailand are quite different than those in America.

In the U.S., it's typical to head to an eatery like Golden Corral, pay a fixed price of around $20, and load your plate with as much food as you can stomach. While there are loads of similar self-serve buffet restaurants all over Thailand, Tom and his girlfriend happened to walk into a place that specialized in mookata, a hot pot and Korean barbeque hybrid cuisine that features your own personal cooking station. At first, it may be intimidating to sit so close to the heat of the skillet and use your own gas or charcoal-powered grill, but don't let this unique buffet experience scare you off. There's a technique involved with mookata dining that you'll be glad you took the time to learn. You can create some truly delicious morsels all on your own.

Along with this DIY approach to flavoring and preparing your food, buffets in Thailand differ from those in the U.S. in another way that requires you to reel it in when it comes to loading up your plate.

Thailand buffets charge a leftover fee to minimize food waste

In the U.S., buffets are where we can let our gluttony run wild thanks to the flat fee you'll pay before loading up a plate or five. However, at hot pot buffets like the mookata-style restaurant Tom visited in Thailand and others in countries like South Korea and Saudi Arabia, you'll have to pay up if your eyes are bigger than your stomach. The more uneaten food you have leftover after your meal, the higher the fee will be. In his TikTok video, Tom explains that he and his partner didn't realize there was a food waste charge until after they'd filled up.


I've never been this lost in a restaurant #thailand #traveltok #culturalfood #buffet #tomfromtx #tomfromtexas

♬ original sound – Tom from Texas

Tom expresses how lost he was on his Thai buffet adventure, saying that he peeked at his neighbors but was still unsure where to start. The couple did their best to do as the locals do. Traditionally, Mookata grills have a dome in the center where fatty pork meat sizzles, surrounded by a moat of boiling water that cooks your veggies thoroughly. The last step is dipping your food into some suki sauce made from garlic, spicy chilis, bean curd, and a hint of sugar for a kick of authentic Thai flavors.