Camellia Buffet Serves Up Its A-Game

Ali Carte Columns

March 3, 2013

Story By: Ali Resich |

With such a wide array of Korean yakiniku-style eateries to choose from on the Island, how do you know which one to go to? The first thing to pay attention to is the foundational quality of every great table-top grilling establishment — its meats! When it comes to the most fresh selection of prime cuts, it’s got to be Camellia Buffet on McCully Street.

During the past 30 years, the eatery has garnered a sizzling reputation for its all-you-can-eat buffet ($17.95 lunch, $25.95 dinner), which presents diners with a bountiful world of savory meats, from chicken and steak (dinner buffet only) to beef ribeye and hot spicy pork, all ready to be grilled at your table.

The true test in finding the right yakiniku spot, though, is tasting the holy grail of all Korean meats: Kalbi short ribs. Camellia knocks this out of the park as well.

“Kalbi is our most popular item,” says owner June Ha. “It’s not regular kalbi; it’s a very good, high-quality meat that is very tender.”

The restaurant’s secret marinade doesn’t hurt either. As Ha describes, the short ribs are marinated for 24 hours before they are ready to grill, which allows them to absorb every drop of flavor. “We’ve been around for 30 years and have used the same sauce the whole time. People know about it and love it,” she says.

Camellia’s newest item — pork belly — adds flair to the menu as well. With its own punch of natural flavor, all you have to do is throw it on the grill bare and watch it transform into smoldering goodness.

Beyond its meats, Camellia’s buffet features more than 50 items that make it worth visiting. An assortment of ready-to-grill vegetables, sides of banchan as well as miso and red bean soup will round out your dining experience. Then, end your feast with fruits, Jell-O or frozen yogurt for dessert, as well as a cup of soothing sikhye (Korean sweet tea).

Seafood lovers are taken care of as well, especially during the dinner buffet, when they can enjoy an endless amount of fresh shrimp among other items.

So if you want to know which spot to choose, Camellia Buffet passes the test.

Camellia Buffet

930 McCully St., Honolulu
951-0511
Open daily, (lunch) 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and (dinner) 2:30 to 10 p.m.

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