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On the Menu

Dive Into Memorable Dining at Oceanarium Restaurant

By Kyle Galdeira Photos By Rachel Breit
August 5, 2013

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Thrilled diners asked to describe the memorable experience provided by Oceanarium Restaurant usually settle on an appropriate theme of “Beauty and the Feast.”

Since 1979, Oceanarium at Pacific Beach Hotel has wowed Hawaii’s kamaaina and visitors alike with its stellar cuisine and under-the-sea atmosphere. In addition to serving up a vast array of buffet and entree selections, the restaurant’s main attraction still resides in its three-story, 280,000-gallon “larger-than-life” aquarium that provides unique views of nearly 400 fish representing more than 70 species of Indo-Pacific marine life — all providing a serene, mystifying backdrop during each delectable dining experience. The hotel’s team of divers feeds the aquarium inhabitants throughout the day, adding a level of intrigue to the experience, while mermaids also frolic through the tank at various times throughout meal service — special requests can also be made to have the mermaid swim over with a custom message sign.

“This is still a wonderful place to bring the family to and enjoy the tranquility of our tank and the food, along with excellent service,” says Patrick Faas, director of food and beverage at Pacific Beach Hotel. “It was great then, and it’s even better now.”

Recently named one of the top three buffets in Star-Advertiser‘s “Hawaii’s Best” People’s Choice Awards, Oceanarium helps diners begin the day on a high note with a daily breakfast buffet ($24.95 adults, $10.95 children ages 5-11 and $14.50 seniors age 65 and over). With fresh fruit; hot selections including bacon, sausage or ham; scrambled eggs; hotcakes; made-to-order omelets; and Japanese favorites such as miso soup and other daily specials, the plate-filling combinations are endless.

Oceanarium’s dinner buffet ($45.95 adults and $47.95 Monday and Thursday, $19.95 children) continues to steal the show. And, with a 20-percent-off kamaaina and senior discount available nightly from 4:30 to 5:30, diners may also dive into incredible value. Dinner patrons can look forward to fresh salads and seafood selections, daily entrees including prime rib, crab legs, chicken, roast pork or beef and fresh-made sushi. A chef even mans a made-to-order pasta station — the perfect complement to the day’s rotating entree specials, which include Alaskan King Crab, New York Steak and Braised Short Ribs.

Saturday and Sunday Brunch ($33.95 adults, $13.50 children and $22.95 seniors) continues to serve as a weekend dining tradition that spans multiple generations of families. With snow crab legs, mussels on-the-half shell, fresh sashimi and poke, cocktail shrimp and lomi lomi salmon coupled with prime rib, pasta, sushi and traditional breakfast fare all available, diners are treated to exquisite taste and value provided by executive chef Mariano Lalica and his skilled staff.

And, don’t forget about dessert. A slew of sweet treats are accompanied by a decadent chocolate fountain, from which a stream of milk chocolate flows to the delight of kids and kids-at-heart. Diners may dip fresh strawberries, pineapple cubes and marshmallows into the cascade of sweetness until one’s sugar fix is satiated.

Oceanarium also features a bevy of flavorful adult beverages, including Mimosas ($15) with champagne and a selection of orange, guava, lilikoi and strawberry juices that serves four, and new “skinny” cocktails ($11) including Pacific Beach Mai Tai, Mango Mint Freeze and Skinny Coco-jito — a fresh, coconut-infused mojito concoction. A wide range of wines is also available by the glass or bottle.

Pacific Beach Hotel recently introduced an aeroponic garden on its roof, from which fresh lettuces and herbs are grown and incorporated into Oceanarium Restaurant’s cuisine. The hotel also owns an organic farm on the Big Island that supplies additional fresh produce to the restaurant.

“We’re really trying to focus on ‘Go Green’ initiatives and reduce our carbon footprint,” Faas says. “Instead of putting plastic water bottles in each room of the hotel, now when you check in, we provide guests with a collapsible, reusable bottle that you can fill up with purified water stations around the hotel. This initiative saves 350,000 bottles a year from going into the landfill.”

Oceanarium Restaurant

Pacific Beach Hotel
2490 Kalakaua Ave.
921-6111
Open daily, 6 to 10 a.m. (breakfast)
Saturday and Sunday brunch, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Nightly dinner buffet, 4:30 to 10 p.m.
Note: Stay tuned for upcoming Oceanarium social media events, including a recipe contest from which the winner will be named “Chef of the Quarter” and have his or her dish featured on the buffet.