Keiki-approved eats, I kid you notAli Carte Columns
June 8, 2014
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
For more than 20 years now, Camellia Buffet has been Honolulu’s yakiniku-style eatery of choice, offering the best in Korean fare with its all-you-can-eat buffet (lunch: $17.95, $13 for children ages 4 to 8; dinner: $25.95, $15 for children ages 4 to 8). From an expansive array of meats, seafood and vegetables ready to be fired up on tabletop grills, to a variety of cooked items, pots of miso and red bean soup, bottomless banchan and desserts to choose from, any palate is tempted upon entering this McCully Street hub.
Just as warm as the restaurant’s freshly grilled items is its inviting atmosphere, which caters to the whole family — especially children. As floor manager Kelly Park will tell you, Camellia Buffet has numerous keiki-approved items, giving parents peace of mind when looking for a family-friendly dining spot.
“On weekends, a lot of families come in,” says Park. “As soon as the kids go to the buffet, they like to grab the (cooked items). They don’t run around, they can just sit down and start eating while their parents grab other items from the buffet.”
Wonderfully crispy fried chicken, complete with a host of seasonings, is one keiki favorite at Camellia. Add a pile of chow fun and a heap of chow mein noodles to the plate, and the sound of happy munching is all you’ll hear coming from the kids throughout lunch or dinner.
Park is a mother of two daughters herself, and she’s watched them grow up enjoying Camellia’s cuisine since the restaurant opened decades ago. As one of the eatery’s original employees, Park also has formed bonds with loyal patrons throughout the years. “I’ve seen a lot of customers bring their children in as infants, and then years pass by and they’re in elementary school,” reminisces Park. “And then some of them come back for their graduation parties.”
Nowadays, Park enjoys bringing her 7-year-old niece into Camellia, as she’s developed quite a sophisticated palate for her age. “Her favorite food here is the Kalbi; she only likes it here. Now I’ve introduced her to pork belly, and she likes that, too,” says Park.
Pork Belly is among the eatery’s most popular buffet selections, and should be cooked a little more than medium — by adults, of course — in order to find the right balance between tender and crispy meat. And while the keiki are happily eating their noodles and chicken, Mom and Dad will have a moment to savor Seasoned Beef, which presents lightly salted prime cuts of flap steak. To accompany the steak, an endless selection of sides, including kim chee, shoyu potato, cabbage, broccoli and bean sprouts complete the meal.
It’s time to let the thrill of the grill entice your whole family at Camellia Buffet.
930 McCully St.
Daily, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for lunch, 2:30-10 p.m. for dinner