A Bountiful BuffetInside Feature
February 18, 2018
Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo
When Toru Makino first began to revolutionize the buffet-dining game nearly 40 years ago in Los Angeles, the talented chef made waves by offering an all-you-can-eat, Asian-influenced dinner buffet for just $6.95.
Fast forward to 2018, and the chef/owner of Makino Waikiki continues to offer incredible value and delicious dining options at the bustling buffet restaurant, which is capable of hosting up to 400 patrons — both local and visiting diners continually fill the eatery for lunch and dinner.
“My style is about volume, value and great food, so we can feed a lot of people and keep prices low,” says Makino, who notes that by ordering in large quantities and maintaining long-term relationships with vendors, savings are passed directly to customers. “Everybody loves being able to enjoy the lunch buffet for the same price as what you would pay for a hamburger somewhere else!”
At Makino Waikiki, more than 50 items are available on the expansive buffet, including freshly prepared sushi and sashimi, ramen and udon, tempura, fruit, desserts and even a table-top hot pot in which guests can prepare vegetables and seafood shabu shabu-style.
During the dinner buffet, hungry patrons can get crackin’ with garlic shrimp, snow crab legs, live lobster, live stone crab and teppanyaki steak, the latter of which is cooked to order with the perfect blend of seasonings and vegetables.
“Mr. Makino,” as employees and loyal customers refer to the restauranteur, explains that he purposefully keeps buffet prices low to “make everyone happy.” Kamaaina can enjoy the lunch buffet for $9.98 during the week and $10.98 on Saturday and Sunday, and can feast during dinner for just $25.98 on week-days and $26.98 on Saturday and Sunday. Simply bring the Dining Out coupon (one per party) found on page 7, and present it with a valid Hawaii ID to enjoy the special rates.
Regular buffet prices are $16.98 for lunch and $35.98 for dinner, while children ages 4-11 eat for half off the regular price (keiki 3 and younger eat for free). Convenient, covered parking is available behind the restaurant (parking entrance located off Ena Road) for $4 (up to two hours), and if you show your receipt after dining, Makino Waikiki will reimburse $2.
“We’re open every day, year-round, and are committed to local families. Parents and their kids can come and enjoy our food without breaking their budget,” says Makino, whose energy and enthusiasm is evident during each meal service. “I know buffets!”