Stadium Camellia Restaurant
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Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at your favorite restaurant? Well, much credit goes to the many chefs, owners and managers who work diligently day in and day out to make sure Hawaii’s diners have a top-notch dining experience.
This week, Dining Out gets the inside scoops from Stadium Camellia Restaurant owner Kris Kim, who gives us a little taste of Stadium Camellia Restaurant and shares just what fuels her culinary drive.
NAME Kris Kim
TITLE Owner of Stadium Camellia Restaurant
TRAINING/EDUCATION Family legacy in the restaurant industry
Who or what inspires you as an owner? My main inspiration as an owner is my father, Jaeshin Park. I wouldn’t be in the restaurant industry today if it weren’t for him. When I was growing up as a small child in Korea, he had a very successful restaurant there that served a mixture of Japanese, Chinese and Korean cuisine. He moved all of us to Hawaii in 1974, and in 1977, he opened Camellia Restaurant in Waikiki, which was one of the first fine-dining Korean restaurants in Hawaii. Camellia Restaurant closed about 25 years later, and that was when he started the Camellia Buffet legacy. My father was an incredible businessman, and even with all of his success, he remained humble and gracious. He taught all of us that the customer is king, and that you must have respect for your customer no matter how well your restaurant is doing. Stadium Camellia Restaurant is our tribute to his memory, his legacy and his fantastic recipes.
How many items are featured in the buffet and what makes your buffet unique? It’s always quality over quantity when it comes to our buffet. Our lunch buffet includes around 30 to 35 items and our dinner buffet offers around 40 to 45, depending on the day. We have a very unique setup from most yakiniku buffets. We offer self-serve hot and cold items, as well as items for grilling. We pride ourselves on offering a bright, clean, spacious and, most importantly, smoke-free yakiniku experience.
What are the most popular buffet items? Without a doubt, our most popular item is our Kal Bi. It’s made with my father’s original and time-tested recipe, and is extremely tender and flavorful. My sister Melanie Park does all of the cooking for our restaurant, and serves many of our father’s original recipes.
Are new items added to the buffet every now and then? If so, what’s the inspiration behind these dishes? We are always thinking of new items to add to the buffet. We like to try new things and see how popular they are with customers. On Labor Day weekend, we tested out a new fried shrimp dish, and we ended up having to make double what we expected! We’re always trying to offer something new that our customers will love.
What is your favorite item in the buffet? Why? I love our Fried Noodles, which have a fantastic balance of flavors and textures. They’re great for snacking while you’re waiting for the grilled items to finish cooking. However, my favorite thing to eat at the restaurant is actually a combination of a few buffet items. I love to take a fresh onion slice, place it on the grill at the same time as the meats are cooking, and then pile the cooked meat on top of the onion so that it absorbs the juices. Eating it all together tastes amazing!
Stadium Camellia Restaurant
4510 Salt Lake Blvd., Honolulu
Daily, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (Lunch)
Sunday-Thursday, 5-9 p.m. and Friday-Saturday, 5-10 p.m. (Dinner)