Shooting for the Stars
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Grab your passport, it’s literally a five star experience at Five Star International Buffet, where you are whisked away on a first-class culinary journey like no other as this one-of-a-kind establishment presents you with the absolute finest in avant-garde international cuisine.
Your traditional all-you-can-eat buffet concept soared to elite status when Five Star International Buffet was first conceived in Hokkaido, Japan, in 2003. Today, you’ll find three additional locations in Hokkaido and one tucked away on the third level of Building C at Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki. As the first location outside of Japan, the company’s founder Noriyuki Kato couldn’t imagine a better place to share his revolutionary buffet concept. Without a doubt it was the perfect fit: Take Kato’s devout love for the islands, Hawaii’s diverse melting pot of cultures, and add to that Kato’s five-star cuisine and you get the pinnacle of perfection.
Dining Out recently paid a visit to Hawaii’s own Five Star International Buffet, where we met with manager Tina Giessman and sous chef Lock Beth Eguchi amid an inviting atmosphere, brilliant decor and an impressive buffet line complete with lavish works of edible art — a full bar and Happy Hour are just icing on the cake. So with that, take in and savor everything that is Five Star International Buffet.
DO: Five Star International Buffet recently opened its doors to Hawaii’s dining scene this past December, and has already gained a dynamic following of both locals and tourists. What is it exactly that has been drawing in packs of hungry diners?
Giessman: We’re not your typical, standard buffet. Sometimes with buffets, people tend to assume that you get mediocre food and neglected service, but we wanted to be way above that and stand out on our own. The big focus for us is quality of food, and with that several of our products are locally grown or locally raised. Also, with our front-of-the-house service, we wanted it to be as if our guests were eating at a full-service restaurant, so as soon as they’re seated we want to make sure we’re conversing with them — whether our guests are locals or tourists, we want them to feel as if they are at home.
Eguchi: Presentation is what definitely sets us apart from other buffets. We’re constantly putting out fresh new dishes.
DO: The buffet line is superb and offers 40 to 50 dishes on a regular basis. What can guests expect from this one-of-a-kind international buffet?
Giessman: When diners walk in to the buffet line, it’s not your typical setup where there’s mass quantities of food sitting under a heat lamp. Instead we have it so it’s like you’re walking into your own kitchen — you have your pots, your pans, and all the portions are small and perfect — most of all the presentation is really nice. Our buffet is international, so we have a bunch of different cuisines, ranging from French, Italian, Japanese to Hawaiian and more.
Eguchi: We also have an impressive dessert selection. Bread Pudding has been a hit because even though you’re full, you can still eat it without feeling stuffed. Our bread pudding is souffle-like, and many really enjoy the guava butter sauce that it’s paired with.
DO: What is the price of the buffet? Do you offer any discounts for kamaaina?
Giessman: Our all-you-can-eat lunch buffet costs $19 for adults, $12 for children ages 5 to 12 and free for children 4 and under. Our all-you-can-eat dinner buffet is priced at $48 for adults, $24 for children ages 5 to 12 and free for kids 4 and under. As far as discounts, we do offer 15 percent off during dinner only for kamaaina, seniors 60 and over and military. Just recently we also began serving our dinner buffet all day on the weekends.
DO: What has the response been like from customers? Does it differ between locals and tourists?
Giessman: No, not at all. The response has been excellent! We’ve had Australian visitors say that we need to open an establishment in Australia. Then we have Japanese clientele who are already familiar with Five Star and they love it! The locals love the food here as well. Our restaurant (which seats 145 people) can get extremely packed, so it’s good to make reservations.
DO: Five Star International Buffet is open for lunch and dinner. What are some standout items in the buffet line?
Eguchi: The eclectic dishes that we have here definitely stand out — a lighter fare for lunch and heartier dishes for dinner. We have a washoku section to our buffet, which features Japanese dishes that were created and brought in from Hokkaido, Japan. Then we have an American-International aspect to our buffet, which presents many other dishes such as mac and cheese, loco moco, Thai curry, Japanese curry, pastas and more. Top items off our buffet include Chawanmushi, Ribeye Teppan, Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon, Kakuni Pork Belly and Bouillabaisse.
DO: Fantastic! Please elaborate on some of these dishes.
Eguchi: Yes. Bouillabaisse is served as part of our dinner buffet. It is a seafood medley with mussels, clams, fish and sometimes crab doused in a soup marseille (seafood stock). Kakuni Pork Belly also is offered during dinner and showcases tender pork belly dressed with a flavorful sauce comprised of soy, honey and brown sugar, and accompanied by fresh spears of asparagus. However, Bacon-wrapped Filet Mignon with a red wine reduction sauce and garnished with red and green bell peppers, onions and Hamakua Alii mushrooms is one of our dinner favorites. Chawanmushi is a popular Japanese dish that we serve in our lunch buffet. It’s a savory egg custard and there’s always a special chestnut added to the dish, which gives a hint of sweetness and another level of complexity. There’s soy in the dish as well, resulting in a perfect blend of sweet and salty.
DO: When it comes to Five Star International Buffet, what are your hopes for the future?
Giessman: We hope to offer more decadent seafood options, such as all-you-can-eat lobster tails and crab legs because that’s what locals have been requesting. Besides that, we also hope to expand in the future.
Five Star International Buffet
- Royal Hawaiian Center, Bldg. C Third Level
- 2201 Kalakaua Avenue
- Honolulu, HI 96815
- (808) 380-9300
- Open Daily
- 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Lunch)
- 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. (Happy Hour)
- 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. (Dinner)