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Pau Hana Patrol: Fill up at Five-Star
REVIEW BY NINA WU / firstname.lastname@example.org
Budget-conscious diners (or drinkers) can shave their bill quite a bit at Five-Star International Buffet’s happy hour.
You can order from a special happy hour menu, with a la carte items from the buffet line offered at $4 to $7. On our visit the menu included a chef’s pasta, assorted tempura, chicken karaage, ahi poke (in a ti leaf boat) and tempura roll sushi, each priced at $7.
FIVE-STAR INTERNATIONAL BUFFET
Royal Hawaiian Center,
The portions were pretty good, and if you order up a few dishes, it’s enough to take care of dinner.
Half-price cocktails were a pretty good deal, too, rivaling other watering holes in Waikiki, with selections ranging from a 1953 Mai Tai (Bacardi, orange curacao, orange and pineapple juice, and Whaler’s dark rum) to a coconut and pineapple caipirinha and a Lava Rocks (muddled fresh banana and strawberry, Bacardi superior, shaken with pineapple and coconut cream).
This fruity concoction is like dessert in a glass, but beware of chunks of banana coming up through the straw.
My cocktail highlight was the Raspberry Sunset, made from fresh, muddled raspberries, island-grown pineapple, Grey Goose and fresh-pressed lime juice — tart and refreshing with just the right kick.
These cocktails are regularly priced at $8 but will cost you only $4 during happy hour.
It probably won’t be crowded during early-afternoon pau hana before the buffet opens at 5 p.m. We had our pick of tables and an attentive waitstaff while ordering drinks.
The lanai is on the interior of the the Royal Hawaiian Center, offering only a view of the third-level walkway, with Beijing Restaurant across the way and Forever 21 next door.
The restaurant, which opened in December, is comfortable enough to be casual but still elegant. You could dine here dressed up or dressed down.
HAPPY HOUR at Five-Star is a good way to fill that afternoon gap between lunch and dinner or warm up to the buffet with half-priced cocktails.
In all truth, though, once you get a peek at the dinner buffet, you’re probably going to wish you went for it.
Selections like the prime rib, snow crab legs, bacon-wrapped meatloaf and braised short ribs aren’t on the happy hour menu, nor are the chawan-mushi (savory egg custard), sauteed vegetables or seafood dynamite.
The dishes are presented in such a beautiful way — on clear glass plates, in seashells and on elevated platters — that you’ll want to sample a little of everything.
A dozen chefs are busy preparing the dishes in the open-style kitchen that flanks both sides of the buffet. As is the case with all buffets, you’ll be tempted to take more than you can handle in one sitting.
The array of desserts also beckons. On our visit we saw fruit tarts and tiramisu, chocolate-covered strawberries, a comforting bread pudding with guava butter sauce and various cakes.
The happy hour menu, by the way, offers a great deal on dessert plus coffee or tea at $4.
Dessert is a slice of cake from the buffet line — if you get the chocolate topped with mousse and a fresh berry, you’ll be perfectly happy.
Dinner buffet costs $48, $24 for youths ages 5 to 12. There’s a 15 percent kamaaina discount and after 8:30 p.m., a 25 percent discount for all. Lunch buffet is $19, $12 for youths.