Eating between the lines
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Growing up, my mom was a master gardener. Our Southern lawn gently sloped into sectioned-off gardens, each filled with aromatic herbs, wholesome veggies, fish ponds, fountains and, my favorite, two camellia bushes (one white and one red).
A true bookworm with such an imagination, I remember I used to play in this enclosed garden, pretending that I was Alice in Wonderland holding court at the Red Queen’s castle. I kid you not; I would open my eyes and literally see those sneaky deck-of-card-footmen, hands filled with paintbrushes secretively splashing crimson coatings all over mama’s alabaster blooms!
And just as the indignation was rising, and I was getting ready for the chase, my eyes would fuzzily focus on what was once again my mother’s garden, complete with its camellia bushes, blush and blanc.
And although my mother’s literary-inspired lawn was riddled with such treachery, all readers (and eaters) can rest assured that there is at least one floral locale with no trickery allowed, because at Camellia Buffet, an all-you-can-eat Korean yakiniku restaurant tucked away on McCully Street, what you see is exactly what you get (and it’s aplenty!)
And even more good news, according to Camellia’s general manager Kelly Park, even vegetarians can find fare catered to their specific tastes. Park explains that the eatery has “a wide selection of Korean-style vegetables especially — perfect for vegetarians to enjoy.”
Among the delicious animal-free dishes included in its all-you-can-eat buffet (lunch $17.95 adults, $13 children; or dinner $25.95; $15) are somen noodles, edamame and more.
One buffet option that really wowed Veg’n Out was Jap Chae, a selection of bell pepper, zucchini, onions, chives and noodles, stir-fried and tossed in sesame oil, shoyu and just a touch of sugar.
Assorted fruits and desserts, featuring fresh and tropical fruits and a plethora of sweet additions such as Jello and even ice cream (dinner only) of course couldn’t be passed over either. Park agrees, smartly suggesting that patrons, “Cool the heat from the dishes’ spices with soothing and sweet ice cream.”
After enjoying these selections, it’s clear to see — even through the looking glass — that a meal at Camellia Buffet is the gift that literally keeps on giving this season.
930 McCully St., Honolulu
Daily, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (lunch) 2:30-10 p.m. (dinner)