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Denby Dung

By Alana Folen Photos By Leah Friel
November 18, 2012

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Get ready for a journey of a lifetime — a culinary journey, that is — at Five Star International Buffet. In a class of its very own, Five Star International Buffet shines new light on your traditional all-you-can-eat buffet concept as it presents you with a delectable spread of avant-garde international cuisine.

The restaurant was first conceived in Hokkaido, Japan, in 2003, and today you’ll come across three additional locations in Hokkaido and one exclusively tucked away on the third level of Building C at Royal Hawaiian Center in the heart of Waikiki. As the first and only location outside of Japan, the company’s founder Noriyuki Kato couldn’t wait to share his revolutionary buffet concept with locals and visitors alike right here in our island home.

And, of course, Dining Out couldn’t imagine a better person to bring along on this incredible Dining with the Stars culinary journey than Denby Dung. Many may recognize her as the TV host of The Pet Hui on OC-12 and Miss Hawaii 2001, but she also serves as a flight attendant for Hawaiian Airlines, so it seemed perfectly fitting to take this opportunity to twist things up and explore the globe foodie-style.

“I’ve worked for Hawaiian Airlines for two years now and have been able to travel to many places including Sydney, Australia, Japan and Las Vegas, to name a few. Hawaiian Airlines has four different routes to Japan and I recently returned from Sapporo. But this is my first time eating here at Five Star International Buffet,” Dung says.

At what seemed like an endless buffet line, Dung filled her plate with international fare ranging from Japanese to French, Italian, Hawaiian and more. The lunch buffet is priced at $19.99 per person and the dinner buffet costs $48. Five Star Enterprises vice president Victoria Wah Hin and the rest of the staff also presented our star with exquisite platters of food, which featured items from the dinner buffet.

“I’m a big fan of buffets and I love to try a little bit of everything, or as I did here … a lot of everything,” Dung says with a laugh. “The food here is delicious. I loved the Loco Moco, Kakuni Pork and Rosemary Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf.”

The spread fit for a queen also consisted of Swai Mousse with a Red Pepper Sauce, Lobster Tail with a Sweet Asian Sauce and Fried Onions, Short Ribs with Black Pepper Demi Glaze and Garlic, Dynamite Scallops, Crab Legs, Shrimp Tempura, Ahi and Salmon Nigiri and more. And things got even sweeter with elaborate dessert options including New York Cheesecake, Tiramisu and Fruit Roll Cake.

“What makes us unique is that we don’t use chafing dishes. We present our food on big platters and all buffet items are served in smaller portions,” Wah Hin says. “We constantly replenish everything in the buffet line to make sure that it’s fresh.”

“I’m already thinking of a special occasion so that I can bring my family here,” Dung adds.

You may wonder how Dung maintains her trim figure as she says she hardly works out. Incomprehensible, we know. Yet, once you are in the presence of her bubbly personality and contagious smile, you sit and talk for a bit and soon realize how incredibly busy she is, and it all seems to make sense. You also can add model, actress, composer and musician to her long list of professions.

“I’ve been a musician in The Royal Hawaiian Band for 13 years. I play the clarinet and sometimes saxophone, as well as emcee at different events,” shares Dung, who also recently appeared in Hawaii Five-0 as a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant. On top of that, she’s performed in numerous Diamond Head Theatre musical productions, such as You Somebody, Flower Drum Song and The Producers.

Need your dose of Denby? Well, you can catch her hosting The Pet Hui Sundays at 8:30 p.m. and all throughout the week on OC-12 where she hopes to make a difference in the lives of many animals.

“I love animals, and it’s so rewarding when they actually find a home. These rescue animals really deserve a forever home and a family of their own,” says Dung, who together with her family has adopted five rescue dogs of her very own.

Five Star International Buffet

Royal Hawaiian Center Bldg C, third level
2201 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu
380.9300
Open daily, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (Lunch), 2-5 p.m. (Happy Hour), 5-10 p.m. (Dinner)