Do You Remember… Buffets

Ahh, the ol’ All-You-Can-Eat places.  When we were younger and could “pound”, we used to look for the buffets to stuff ourselves with anything and everything – so long as we got our money’s worth. And with our then-metabolism, we didn’t have to worry about gaining any weight.


When I think of buffets, the first one that comes to mind is the Flamingo Chuckwagon.  Remember the Chuckwagon on Kapiolani Blvd, across the HIC?  The familiar horse in the parking lot.





And the Western motif that decorated the restaurant.




I remember one of the first times that I went there.  My friend’s dad took us there to eat dinner before watching the Harlem Globetrotters play across the street at the HIC.  I remember thinking to myself “You mean I can eat more that just 2 pieces of fried chicken?”


And remember the private banquet room next door?  We attended many bowling banquets there.


How about Kengo’s? – That’s one place that I never had the pleasure of eating at.  Maybe you folks can share some experiences from there?  Wasn’t it also a late night place to hang out and drink?


The first buffet I ever went to was Smorgy’s in the Outrigger Hotel.  I remember when my dad took us for lunch this one time.  Had some beach boy kids that wanted to get in to eat but it required footwear.  And we all know that back in those days we all went barefoot.  But they managed to find a pair a slippers so one boy would put on the slippers and pay to get inside the restaurant.  Then he’d go over to the beach side balcony and toss the pair of slippers down to his friends where the other guys would take turns with the one pair of slippers until they were all in.  Pretty smart guys.


One time in high school, after surfing on the north shore all day, we dropped our boards off at home in Kailua and headed to the Smorgy’s in Kaneohe.  Yes, used to have one in Kaneohe!  And we pigged out until we each had to take turns going to the bathroom to make doo-doo.  Man, talk about eating too much…


What other buffet restaurants do you remember from back in the day?  Do you have some buffet stories to share?  No shame.




It’s time to start getting your costume together.  You only have about 2 weeks left!


37 Responses to “Do You Remember… Buffets”

  1. Rodney says:

    @PA – LOL! Dick Brewer? Wow, the Cadillac of boards. Good choice.

  2. PA says:

    rod no worrys 40 years is enough time to recover from the trauma
    besides i only worked there long enough to pay off
    my custom dick brewer board
    guess why the fried shrimp tray was always empty

  3. M says:

    Guud morning MLCers!

  4. 4G says:

    LOL! I was wondering what that reference to “food art” was. Now I know. 😉

  5. Rodney says:

    @PA – I’m going to apologize to you right now because we were guilty of the disgusting food art when we went to the Kaneohe Smorgy’s. I took a cup of pudding but was too stuffed to finish it. But I didn’t want it to look uneaten so I poured some coffee on it to cover it up. But then my friend started to mix it with a spoon and it turned into something gross.

    I’m so sorry, PA. We were young kids in high school that didn’t know any better.


  6. Rodney says:

    I only heard about the military buffets – and always wished I could check one out. The closest thing I got to one was parties at the Hale Koa hotel.

  7. mows says:

    I remember the military NCO clubs had some good all you can eat events. I remember my Dad taking us to Wheeler (don’t remember what had), Pearl Harbor all you can eat shrimp, Fort Shafter Sky View Terrace my neighbor’s grandma was the chef there and she made that carrot and raisin salad in the buffet that I haven’t seen or eaten in years) also champagne breakfast with steak and eggs my dad let me drink some and I remember feeling fuzzy after that. I remember having a few banquets at the Flamingo Chuckwagon but so full that I couldn’t eat that huge piece of fried chicken after eating the prime rib. Kengo’s on Kapiolani had some good seafood, lobster blackbean then they moved to Restaurant Row and closed shortly after only to disappear to oblivion like everything else.

  8. Masako says:

    A couple of weeks ago my parents got invited to brunch at the Halekulani. My dad got sick so I ended up taking my mom. I think it cost around 60 bucks so I was expecting crab and lobster. It was a really nice buffet, not a lot of offerings but what they did have was quality, small amounts refilled often. The highlight was a roasted pig and prime rib which I don’t usually eat so I just had a taste. The sashimi was top grade and the omelet bar had lots of choice of fillings. The salads were really creative and fresh. There were lots of desserts but I just tried the homemade ice cream which was pretty good. The service was also top notch. I’m glad I got to check it out but I don’t think I would go back.

  9. Masako says:

    I went to quite a few parties at Flamingo Chuck wagon. Ono fried chicken and prime rib. I remember those huge plates. I made it a point to eat there when I heard it was going to close. Used to go to Kengo’s sometimes but more often to the bar upstairs for Karaoke. They had a simple buffet for like 6 bucks. Captain Table which was in Waikiki holiday inn had a awesome bruch, we used to go there for Christmas every year with the family, it had a live sushi bar and crab legs plus all kind other stuff.

  10. PA says:

    i worked @ the kaneohe perry’s i learned alot about peoples
    ideas on food art it was pretty disgusting

    • E says:

      Do you remember where Perry’s was located in the Kaneohe Bay Shopping Center?

      • Rodney says:

        I remember going there back in high school. IIRC, it was on the Haiku road side of the shopping center – all the way at the end. I don’t remember the shopping center being as big as it is today, though.

  11. M says:

    Guud morning MLCers!
    Went to Makino Chiya last week for lunch and for $11.00 that’s not bad. I was so stuffed.

  12. dihudfan says:

    sorry spelled Bellagio wrong….

  13. dihudfan says:

    Hanohano Room… great place to have a Sunday brunch… great food and environment, crowded but the scenery took care of all that… miss that place…

    Halekulani Sunday Brunch… used to be really good and had big selection long ago…

    John Dominis Brunch wuz good too…

    So far… the buffet I went to and really enjoyed and ate till I couldn’t move… sorry, wuz in LV… Belagio… NO CAN HANDLE now…

  14. sally says:

    @KAN and Rod: I think I asked if you (KAN) knew him when the Nagamine name came up. I knew Dan and his wife Maxine, and their sons at my first FT job I worked at (not Flamingos). Very nice family.

  15. Mark'75 says:

    @khs68: Flamingo Chuckwagon mac and cheese! The only time I liked it. Oh yeah, now I remember had pork n’ beans too!!

  16. Mark'75 says:

    @4G: If you’re in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Plaza, check out Five Star International Buffet. $19 for lunch…good food…garanz no can work afterwards!

  17. 4G says:

    Flamingo Chuckwagon – @Mark’75, those plates were ginormous! LOL.

    I think the first buffet I was introduced to was the Perry Boys’ Smorgy in Waikiki. We went to the Chuckwagon way more often, though. I had my high school graduation (family) party there. It’s funny – I never cared much for prime rib way back then. Now, I like it! LOL.

    Kengo’s was late on the scene compared to those first two. There was (is?) also Makinochaya, Todai and Tsukiji. Never been to Todai. Makitti was okay. Those Korean buffets like Camellia are pretty good. Prince Court brunch buffet is pretty good, too.

    In the past, the best thing about a buffet was that you could eat to your heart’s content. These days, the variety of stuff is more impressive to me. I can’t eat as much as I used to.

    I remember a lesson about buffets that my grand uncle mentioned, but I never really keyed-in on until later in life. You don’t have to pile your plate with food (you can keep it neat) – you can go back to get more. LOL.

  18. Mark'75 says:

    Talking about Kengo’s, I remember the bar he ran upstairs above the restaurant. It was my first time in a karaoke bar. On big projection screen tv’s, song lyrics scrolled across with video of topless Asian girls sunbathing, swimming, etc. Had hard time trying to sing and kept missing the cues with all the distractions!!! 😆

  19. Mark'75 says:

    I remember Flamingo Chuckwagon and the Silverdollar Bar inside the front entrance. Just the empty dinner plate was hefty and heavy. The hot foods glowing red under the red heat lamps. And au jus flowing all over and under other food on the plate including the butter roll, tossed salad, fruits, and jello. Was great!

  20. dihudfan says:

    wen I started working at the papah, there wuz one guy who really eat a whole bunch of food… bottomless pit… he wuz banned from Flamingo’s… he ate too much…

  21. dihudfan says:

    the first buffet I know of, wuz Waikiki Sands, street level on Kalakaua, Waikiki Bowl wuz on the second floor (if I remembah right)…
    they also had one next to King Theater…
    used to go to Flamingo’s a lot, bowling parties…
    also one of the reasons one of my buddies and I used to ride our bikes, wuz to go to Kaneohe’s Smorgy’s and any other place that served a lot of food…
    all the good buffets are now gone… or they don’t have the spread they used to have… still go to Prince Court occasionally…

  22. KAN says:

    I don’t think I’m related to any Nagamines, but I’ll ask. He looks just like one of my uncles on my Dad’s side.

  23. Kailua girl says:

    Perry’s smorgasbord at the Outrigger …my best friend and I used to cut school and go to the one in Waikiki. Those were in the days where they had the Hare Krishna people on Kalakaua Avenue in their saffron fabric.

  24. Rodney says:

    @KAN – The guy in the picture is Dan Nagamine. Ring a bell?
    Yes, Westeria was on King St. (corner of Piikoi).

  25. khs68 says:

    I remember my parents liked to go to the Queen’s Surf restaurant buffet in Waikiki near the Natatorium in the ’50s – ’60s. The restaurant was divided into two sections – luau & show for the tourists, and prime rib buffet for the locals. My first intro to a salad bar — loved those green olives.

    I miss the Flamingo Chuckwagon, our go-to place for family occasions. Fried chicken, barbecue ribs and the mac and cheese were so ono.

    @volleymom2 – the name of that chinese buffet is Royal Palace. We used to go there on Saturdays after tennis because the buffet was reasonably priced. Haven’t been there since they changed owners and raised the buffet price.

  26. volleymom2 says:

    Yes, used to go to Flamingo Chuckwagon to eat, but Kengo’s was the go to place. That was a treat for me. Never went to Perry Boy Smorgy. Today, I like the Camellia Buffet (Korean food) and the one by Ice Palace (forget the name) make good lunch Chinese buffet.

  27. sally says:

    Spent many bowling banquets at Flamingo Chuckwagon. Now I’m ono for prime rib lol.

  28. Kage says:

    Flamingo’s fried chicken is what I remember. Not much else.

  29. Kage says:

    The only time I went to Kengo’s was right before the closed the Kapiolani location. I thought it was good. It was a friend’s UH Graduation party.

  30. Kage says:

    Good Morning all.

    I remember Perry Boys’ Smorgy at Kaneohe Bay Shopping Center. We used to go there for Sunday brunch and meet up with our Aunties and Uncles. The older folks used to stay inside for hours just talking, eating and laughing.
    We kids used to go outside to the bank and look at the squirrel monkeys.

  31. KAN says:

    Edit to my post-I think I’m confusing Flamingo’s with Wisteria – was that on King Street?

  32. KAN says:

    Rodney, I think you’re thinking of Perry Boys’ Smorgy. I remember it well in Kane’ohe Bay Shopping Center. That was the first and only buffet I went to for a long time. I think there was one at Flamingo’s, but it was so long ago I can’t remember properly! (I’m pleading MLC.)

    The man in that first photo above looks like one of my uncles.

  33. Gareth says:

    I remember Smorgy’s, too; was one of the first buffets we went to, with our dad. One of their specialties was spaghetti in wine sauce. We kids weren’t allowed to drink; so eating that spaghetti gave us the thrill of feeling a little naughty and a little bit grown-up.

  34. M says:

    Guud morning MLCers!
    I never been to Smorgy’s.

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