Stadium Camellia Restaurant Blooms AgainFeatures Inside Feature
August 11, 2013
Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: Leah Friel
After settling into a new location late last year, Stadium Camellia Restaurant has bloomed yet again — mirroring the sturdy and stunning flower after which it is named.
The family-owned operation has satisfied Hawaii diners’ appetites for nearly 40 years with Korean and other local favorites that are cooked Yakiniku style on grills situated at every table. The recent incarnation of Stadium Camellia Restaurant is located conveniently in Halawa’s Stadium Mall at the former Pizza Hut locale, and has drawn a host of new and returning customers eager to dig into the all-you-can-eat buffet, which features both the traditional yakiniku meats and vegetables for grilling as well as fully prepared selections served hot and fresh on the buffet line.
The Camellia story began in 1977, as Jaeshin Park, a former Korean Air employee who brought his family to Hawaii a few years prior, opened the first of what would be nine restaurant locations in Waikiki. After Park suffered a stroke six years ago, he and his family decided to scale back operations, eventually closing what had served as the last Camellia location in Pearl Kai in early 2012.
However, after an overwhelming show of support by customers who missed their yakiniku fix, Park’s son Ronnie and daughter Kris decided to bring back the iconic buffet and rejuvenated the restaurant’s legacy.
“The camellia is a very strong flower that is always in bloom, so the restaurant is always blooming, too,” explains Kris, who manages the restaurant, while Ronnie serves as owner. “We were going to retire completely, but our loyal customers kept calling and asking us to open a buffet on this side of the island. We live in Salt Lake, so when we passed the location and found it was empty, that’s how we ended up here.”
The spacious new restaurant is capable of serving up to 120 people, including larger groups and those celebrating special events. Diners can stock up on their favorite buffet items, cooking them to perfection on the easy-to-use grill powered by butane canisters. While the original buffet in Waikiki featured an exclusively Korean menu, the current version of Stadium Camellia Restaurant offers a host of traditional Korean favorites as well as local-style dishes that make up some of the hot buffet items.
The bountiful buffet is available daily at lunch ($14.95 for adults and $7.95 for children, served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and dinner ($24.95 for adults and $12.95 for children, served from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday). Additionally, a 10 percent discount is available daily for members of the military Monday through Thursday and seniors. Those celebrating a birthday also receive 50 percent off their individual meal after showing a valid ID.
The buffet spread includes Kal Bi short ribs, BBQ Chicken, Spicy Chicken, BBQ Beef and Pork, Fried Noodles, Fish Jun, Mixed Seafood Stir-Fry, Korean Spicy Chicken Karaage and a host of soups, vegetables, macaroni salad and fruit. The dinner selections include the aforementioned items as well as Shrimp, Chap Chae (long rice with vegetables) Cubed Beef Sir-loin, Flat Steak, Steamed Squid, Korean Crab and Steamed Clams served in a special house sauce. To sweeten the deal, a soft-serve ice cream machine is available at both lunch and dinner, and provides a cool treat to finish off one’s meal. Customers are also encouraged to BYOB — there are no additional fees or corkage charges.
“Our lunch price is really reasonable,” explains Kris, “because nowadays, plate lunches are so expensive — the kal bi alone is close to $12. Here, you can get kal bi, plus all the other meats such as spicy pork, barbecue beef, plus fish jun, seafood stir-fry and other items. Instead of just eating one plate lunch, customers can go back for as much as they like, and have fun cooking on the grill at the table. You definitely have to try our kal bi. It’s the best.”
Takeout plates are also available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and include four vegetable selections and white or brown rice. Plate lunches include BBQ Beef ($7.95), BBQ Chicken ($7.95), Fish Jun ($7.95) and Fried Mandoo ($6.95). Diners can also create a combination plate with two of their favorite selections for $9.95.
Just in time for tailgate season, Stadium Camellia Restaurant also offers a catering menu to aid in planning a special party or gathering. Platters of shrimp, kal bi, spicy chicken and other favorites are available in medium and large platters ranging from $45 to $185. Log on to the restaurant’s new website for more information: www.StadiumCamelliaRestaurant.com.
Stadium Camellia Restaurant
4510 Salt Lake Blvd., Honolulu
Daily, 11 A.M. To 3 P.M. (Lunch); 5 To 9 P.M. Sunday Through Thursday And 5 To 10 P.M. Friday And Saturday (Dinner)