Five Star International Buffet
[Editor's note 2/17/12: Kamaaina and military discount 25% off dinner only, excluding beverages. From now until Sunday, Feb 19]
Five Star International Buffet is like going to a backyard potluck in Hawaii: there's a little bit of everything from cuisines around the world. There's sushi, poke, salad, steak, Italian pasta, Thai curry, dessert (that's a cuisine, right?). Except Five Star is like going to a potluck of show-off chef friends, so your steak is a bacon-wrapped filet mignon, your salad an individually plated mini wedge salad, and dessert is twenty-some different varieties of sweets, from bread pudding to tiramisu to opera cake to cheesecake to three different types of mousse. And that's not even going into the chawanmushi, gravlax, the scallop Rockefeller style, papaya vichyoisse with a chiffonade of basil. Oh, and this is a potluck of chef friends who own a stunning array of colorful casserole-ware a la Le Creuset. So suffice it to say, you are not wanting for variety, and the presentation style is homey-er than most buffet restaurants in town.
The open kitchen backs the buffet line, so the chefs keep a watchful eye on the dishes, putting out hot food (or cold in the case of sushi, sashimi and salad) in relatively small portions when offerings are depleted. This method keeps the food fairly fresh, though it can't save the chicken Madeira and salmon from drying out. Steering away from those, and perhaps the pasta (mostly for fear of carb overloading), we sampled almost everything and left feeling not so much gluttonous as delighted by all the flavors and variety. The desserts in particular receive honorable mention: they seem as if they're designed not to overwhelm, but are light and not-too-sweet enough for you to be able to sample a few. Or five. Or 10.
$19 for lunch, $48 for dinner. In the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, third floor, 380-9300, fivestarwaikiki.com