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Beloved Yakiniku Buffet Gets An Upgrade

Step Up to the Plate

October 29, 2017

Story By: Lynsey Beth Futa | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

Owner Shawna Kim sits among an array of yakiniku, ban chan, cooked fare and soup offerings from Camellia Buffet.

There are only a handful of eateries on the island where one could confidently say they got their money’s worth in the amount and quality of food they ate. And one of those places has always been Camellia Buffet on McCully Street.

Now under new ownership, the family-style yakiniku spot is better than ever. After closing down for two weeks for renovations, Camellia reopened Oct. 13 with owner Shawna Kim now in charge. And she’s wasted no time in adding to the delicious list of yakiniku offerings and Korean buffet fare.

“We have yakiniku, but we also have sushi for dinner now,” she says.

Buffet selections (lunch: $18.95 adults, $14 kids ages 4-8; dinner: $27.95 adults, $17 kids ages 4-8)

Longtime sushi chef, Roy Jin, has joined the Camellia team, and will be creating unique sushi rolls and nigiri for the dinner buffet (available 2:30-10 p.m.). The options change nightly, but expect to find creations such as California, Spicy Tuna, Crunchy, Avocado and Spicy Salmon rolls. For the nigiri, pick from ahi, salmon, tamago, unagi, masago and more.

As for the yakiniku, which means grilled meat in Japanese, Camellia offers an array of carnivorous and vegetarian options.

“Most people like our kalbi with the bone,” Kim says. “But it’s only served during dinner time.” (Kim is hoping to add pork ribs to the lunch buffet soon to appease hungry diners during the day.)

Assorted sushi (available for dinner buffet only)

Also on the meat lineup is deliciously marinated bulgogi, chicken, pork belly and thinly sliced beef brisket. Plus, there’s a selection of chopped veggies ready to be cooked on the built-in tabletop grills.

What sets Camellia apart from other yakiniku places, however, has to be the buffet’s array of ban chan, or side dishes, available entrees, as well as Korean soups and stews.

While the ban chan features all the favorites, such as kimchee, marinated bean sprouts, pickled radish and more, the already-cooked entrees include Korean-style seafood pancake, japchae and spicy ddeokbokki, or Korean rice cake.

“We also serve the Korean-style doenjang jjigae — that’s kind of a strong miso soup with tofu — or soybean soup,” Kim adds. It’s true: Customers can ladle their own aromatic Korean soups and stews — which also include red bean porridge, soft tofu soup and seaweed soup — and eat it alongside their grilled fare with a bowl of rice — of course.

And don’t forget the sauce bar, which is stocked with hot chili, shoyu sauce mixtures and soybean paste for dipping, as well as raw garlic and chilies for grilling alongside your meats.

“We’re trying to (offer) a lot of things. We enjoy seeing people eat, and I love to eat,” Kim says with a smile.

For lunch (available 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.), patrons pay $18.95 for adults and $14 for kids ages 4-8, while dinner is $27.95 for adults and $17 for kids ages 4-8. And if that wasn’t already a steal for an all-you-can-eat feast, Kim says diners will receive 20 percent off for the month of November, in celebration of the reopening.

“We also have a December promotion,” she adds, which will offer 20 percent off during the entire month of December if you spend $100 or more.

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