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Southern-Style Cuisine Sails in to Oceanarium

Features Inside Feature

March 9, 2014

Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

While most partygoers dream of celebrating Mardi Gras in the Big Easy, Oceanarium Restaurant has diners jazzed up to the tune of Southern-style cuisine in the heart of Waikiki.

Throughout March, diners are transported to New Orleans via Oceanarium’s seasonal offerings, which include Chicken Cajun Gumbo, Craw-fish Boil — an aromatic assortment of tasty crawfish, clams, corn and other fresh vegetables — and King Cake, a traditional dessert featuring pound cake covered in colored sugar and cinnamon. The seasonal items are among the restaurant’s stellar dinner buffet collection, Tuesday nights, to coincide with the popular “Shrimp Night” theme.

Since 1979, Oceanarium has wowed locals and visitors alike with its 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 — including a gigantic grouper — that provide a serene, mystifying backdrop during each delectable dining experience. The hotel’s team of divers feed the aquarium inhabitants throughout the day, while mermaids frolic throughout the tank at various times during meal service — special requests can also be made to have the mermaid present a custom message.

“This is still a wonderful place to bring the family, 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 up). 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 on Monday and Thursday, $19.95 children) continues to steal the show. And, with a 15 percent off kamaaina discount available nightly from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. and again after 8:30 p.m., diners may also dive into incredible value. Dinner patrons can look forward to fresh salads and seafood selections, daily entrees including prime rib, snow and Dungeness crab, kalbi spareribs and freshly made sushi. A chef even mans a made-to-order pasta station — the perfect complement to rotating theme nights including Alaskan King Crab (Mondays and Thursdays), Hog Night (Wednesdays, featuring a host of pork dishes) and Kamaaina Night (Fridays, including local-style cuisine and flavors).

Saturday and Sunday Brunch ($35.95 adults, $14.50 children and $24.95 seniors; kamaaina receive a 15 percent discount) 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 served up by executive chef Mariano Lalica and his skilled staff.

For 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.

Pacific Beach Hotel recently introduced a must-see dinner show dubbed Te Moana Nui: Tales of the Pacific. The incredible experience is presented by the talented Polynesian performers from Tihati Productions on three stages throughout the hotel’s Grand Ballroom, which features a gigantic LED screen to enhance the experience. The show is scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Thursday nights (pre-show at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 6:30 p.m. and show starts at 7:30 p.m.), and features a dinner ($115 adult, $82 children) that takes luau to the extreme with prime rib, fresh lau lau made in house, poke, sushi and even poi andagi. Cocktail packages ($68 for adults including two drinks, $50 children including two non-alcoholic beverages) are also available.

“It’s The Lion King of the Pacific — there are multiple characters and a storyline involved,” Faas explains. “There’s always something going on near and around you throughout the entire show. We offer a banquet-style atmosphere and an upscale experience; and you don’t have to sit in traffic for two hours each way. It’s really convenient, and just the perfect experience.”

Oceanarium Restaurant

Pacific Beach Hotel
2490 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu
921-6111
Daily, 6-10 a.m. (breakfast)
Saturday-Sunday brunch, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
nightly dinner buffet, 4:30-10 p.m.

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