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Waikiki Eats: Aloha Friday Lunch Buffet at the Oceanarium

These folks at their tables don’t look a least-bit interested in the aquarium’s entertainment. lol

OK, you’re not gonna’ find Nemo or Spongebob Squarepants wishing you a happy birthday in the Oceanarium’s 280,000 gallon, 3-story indoor saltwater aquarium in Waikiki anytime soon. But you will find plenty of entertainment and subject for conversation as you gaze at over 70 different species of marine life swim across the other side of the towering glass windows of the tank which makes up the entire inner-wall of the restaurant.

While all of us have been here on our own for various functions throughout the years, never has our office gang come to the Oceanarium together for any of our annual birthday functions. So granting his own request, we brought Diner E here for the Aloha Friday Lunch Buffet (just this past Friday) in celebration of his birthday.

An Oceanarium Diver feeds the fishies fresh lettuce leaves

As you seen in the first photo, Spongebob had the sign-waving job covered! Of course that’s just a Photoshop fantasy, but you can have a diver hold up a sign (for a fee) in the tank with any special message you’d like. “Happy Birthday!” “Congratulations!” “Will You Marry Me?” or even, “I want a divorce”. lol

These fish went into a feeding frenzy over the lettuce

Here’s the deal…

Aloha Friday Lunch Buffet

11am to 2pm (on Fridays only)

$15.50 adults, $8.50 children 5-10 years old, $9.50 seniors 65 years and over

Salads & Appetizers

Fresh Island Tossed Greens, Chef’s Assorted Specialty Salads, Island Sashimi, Fish and Tako Poke, Lomi Lomi Salmon, Potato Macaroni Salad and Fresh Fruit.

Daily Entrées

Chef’s selection featuring Miniature Pork Lau Lau, Island Chicken, Beef or Pork Specialty, Catch of the Day, Noodles or Pasta, and Hot Vegetable of the Day.

Far East Specialties

Chirashi, Hosomaki, Futomaki, California Roll, Shrimp & Vegetable Tempura, Nimono and Miso Soup.


Pastry Chef’s selection of tasty treats featuring: Okinawan Sweet Potato Pie, Lilikoi Chiffon Pie, Custard Pie,

Chocolate Haupia Cake, Chef’s Special, Mochi, Assorted Petite Pastries, Almond Float and Zenzai

With that said, here’s a few plates that some of da’ gang chose at the buffet line that landed on our table…

Clockwise from top: Potato Salad, Steamed Monchong, Shrimp Tempura & Dipping Sauce, Charashi Rice, California Maki Roll, Roast Pork, Sashimi, Tako Poke & Ahi Poke

None of us knew what the heck this fish was called. It was quite strange-looking.

Clockwise from top (10 o’clock): Miso Soup, Tako Poke, Ahi Poke, Pickled Ginger, Sashimi, Wasabi (choke), Shrimp Cocktail, Cucumber Maki and California Maki

One of the larger rays makes a round

Chowfunn noodles, Steamed Monchong with Lup Cheong!, Chirashi Rice, California Maki, Shrimp Tempura, Oden (you’re supposed to put that in a bowl!), and smoke-roasted pork (they said this was awesome!)

Mini Laulau…

These laulau weren’t so “mini”. More full-size if you ask me! Enough that Diner “AC” split one with me. The execution was excellent as well, using a really fatty, generous piece of pork, wrapped in REAL Luau leaves and steamed in Ti Leaves. Of course, no can touch Young’s or Ono’s, but for what it’s worth, solid. I think all it needed was a little more Hawaiian Salt, some poi on da’ side and this would have been perfect.

Some desserts…

Almond Float…

Yeah, most of the choices on the entree dishes above were the same. That’s because we all have similar tastes in what we like! There certainly were many other choices available that you must see, pick and choose for yourself here at the Oceanarium’s buffet.

Now you ask, was this lunch buffet worth $15.99? Absolutely! I was most impressed with the freshness of the Tako Poke, Ahi Poke and Sashimi. You see that second plate (the round one)? That’s mine. Minimal starch (rice) and maximum fresh seafood. Go for da’ gold!

Any complaints? Well, primarily that they kept running out of the popular items, not having a replacement immediately ready. This was especially problematic for the Tempura station. They were bringing new pans out in very small batches, which didn’t take even minutes before they were attacked and cleaned out. lol Not that their Tempura was anything special either. Not bad, but not great. As you can tell by the batter, speed more than attention to detail is the name of the game. But hey, for just $16, including everything else offered, what can you expect?

Service is typical buffet restaurant style, and I must say, they were quick to take away our finished plates, while keeping our water glasses full. So kudos to the Oceanarium staff on that.

As for the aquarium, the tank had a couple of large rays, standard size eagle rays, most of the typical Hawaiian reef fish, but no sharks. Also gone were the massive Ulua they used to have. The largest fish (besides the rays) in there was one Awa. I don’t recall seeing any eels or lobsters on the bottom, but than again, none of us really were paying that much attention to the tank, and more into enjoying our lunch.

Of course, this is a great place to bring kids, and they do have lower prices for the keiki.

Here’s The Oceanarium’s current prices:

• Breakfast Buffet (Mon-Saturday 5:30am-10am): $17.50 per person, $7.75 children 5-10 years old

• Nightly Dinner Buffet (4:30pm-10:00pm) $34.95 adults, $15.25 children 5-10 years old

• Saturday Brunch Buffet (11am-2:30pm) $21.95 adults, $11.50 children 5-10 years old

• Sunday Brunch Buffet (10am-2:30pm) $26.95 per person, $11.50 children 5-10 years old

• Aloha Friday Lunch Buffet* (11am-2pm) $15.50 adults, $8.50 children 5-10 years old, $9.50 seniors 65 years and older

*The lunch menu on all other days except Fridays are served ala carte (not buffet) off the menu.

So if you’re tired of Todai, Willowed out, or mad at Makino Chaya, consider Aloha Friday at the Oceanarium!

Oceanarium Restaurant

2490 Kalakaua Avenue

Honolulu, HI 96815

Phone: 808-921-6111

(located lobby level of the Pacific Beach Hotel in Waikiki)

Open daily from 5:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Dinner 4:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.


The Tasty Island Rating:

(3) Very Good. Considerable of another visit or purchase. (Supah’ Ono!)

12 thoughts on “Waikiki Eats: Aloha Friday Lunch Buffet at the Oceanarium

  • July 31, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Wow! That’s a great price for that type of buffet. My husband has Fridays off, so guess where we’re heading sometime soon? We’ve been to the dinner buffet there and of course the aquarium is totally fascinating to the kids. I also find the blue of the water and the effortless movements of the fish to be quite soothing.

  • July 31, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    I say it a good deal with sea creatures to look at also. Food look yummy but where the sweet potatoe pie oh well I will go there for sure thank for letting blogger know of such a good deal.

    Can you write about buffets on ferries? I heard of it but never been on one with entertainment also.

  • August 1, 2008 at 3:54 am

    OMG — Before I realized that you had photoshopped SpongeBob and the shark into your photo, I actually thought the Oceanarium had done away with its live fish. Recession and budget-cuts being what they are, y’know. Yes, it’s time for me to go to bed, LOL.

    I actually thought of the Oceanarium and the Honolulu Aquarium this past weekend when I took my kids to the Seattle Aquarium and saw a humuhumunukunukuapuaa there.

    But back to the subject, I am craving tako poke big time after looking at your photos.

  • August 1, 2008 at 3:57 am

    Whoa! The Shogun lunch buffet didn’t die after all; it was reborn as the Oceanarium’s lunch buffet with some Hawaiian & other local specialties added to the mix! I will definitely spread the word to my co-workers and friends!

  • August 1, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Fran, let us know how your visit goes. Today is Aloha Friday and it looks like a good day for it! While it is soothing to watch the fish swim by as you enjoy your (seafood) meal, it’s almost sadistic at the same time if you think about it. lol

    Amy, they had a bunch of pies cut into single-serving slices that we DIDN’T choose, so chances are the Okinawan Sweet Potato Pie might was there, but we overlooked it. As for buffets on ferries, sorry, but I’m straight. lol Seriously, I remember going on the Navatek for a whale-watching daytime cruise, and they offered a buffet lunch that we were actually quite impressed with! We thought the meal was going to be an afterthought, but it turned out being one of the highlights!

    Jenny, that’s too funny. I thought the same thing when looking at that picture after finishing it. Wouldn’t that be a number if you went to the Oceanarium and all the fish were gone, replaced by inanimate cutouts of cartoon characters? lol With Spongebob holding up a sign that says, “Due to the high cost of energy, have removed all (live) marine life from the aquarium. We apologize for any inconvenience.” OMG! But yes, their Poke and Sashimi quality was very impressive for just $15.50. Ounce-for-ounce, I had more of those two items than anything else on the buffet line.

    Molly, yes, if you’re in the mood for Japanese, Oceanarium has enough to satisfy the craving, and I was quite impressed in the execution. While it’s no Kyoya, she go.

  • August 2, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    What??!! No more live sea creatures there? Is that true? I was planning a trip to Honolulu and hope to see this restaurant with it aquarium. That why more places of business gone solar and wind powers in San Franicisco and it working in bringing down the cost of engery. Electric cars is in now also.

    Now I not sure.

  • August 2, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    Darn!!! Hope to see it aquarium with buffet now it just a buffet restaurtant nothing special. Better off going to Todai now. If it high energy go solar and wind power. They should advertiser for tourists and maybe get more business. Pacific Beach Hotel need still that aquarium in Oceanarium it attract customers now just a regular buffet restaurant.

  • August 2, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    Betty and Brenda, where are you getting the idea that there’s no sea life in the aquarium? The post I made includes many photos of the fish and stingrays that were swimming about as we enjoyed our lunch.

    As mentioned, there weren’t any sharks or Ulua, which makes it that much more captivating, yet there’s enough reef fish and stingrays to keep things entertaining. Of course, the food is just as important here, and they do a darned good job at that.

  • August 3, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Thanks Pomai,

    In that case count me in on Aloha Friday. I wll be there with family and friends.

  • August 3, 2008 at 5:33 pm


    I guess it was misunderstanding in the blog. I am a blogger always checking on things to be sure. Guess it was the Sponge Bob sign part. Now I am happy to see Oceanarium Restaurant when I am in Honolulu with my family .

    I notice many hawaiian fast foods places in California never serve teriyaki burgers just regular and I even ask and told them it good for their businesses than regular burgers. It never order much also.

    Thanks for the clearing up.


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