Saturday, February 28, 2009

What kind of buffet is this?

You can probably imagine how a place that can come up with a phrase like "broke da mouth" would love all-you-can-eat deals. A stomach will burst long before your mouth is "broken" from over-eating, but this IS the state that sent the first non-Japanese sumo wrestlers to Japan. Maybe Hawaiians have super-elastic stomach muscles!

I remember going into a buffet-style restaurant in Waikiki and watching the local boys pile those plates sky high. I enjoyed watching them eat and eat and eat. If only I enjoyed the food half as much!

One of our friends here is a Japanese American guy who lived in Big Dog's house when he was going to college many moons ago. We try to get together with him and his wife at least once while we are here and for some reason, it has always been for dinner at Todai, the Japanese seafood and sushi buffet on Ala Moana. This time, however, he surprised us by inviting us to a different place.

"Tabe-hodai," whispered Big Dog as we got to the restaurant.
Sure enough, it was all-you-can-eat, albeit a very ritzy one.
"I wonder why they like those buffets. L isn't like those giant Hawaiians -- he doesn't eat a whole lot -- and neither, really, does his wife." For someone like me, the only point of a buffet is to get more than your money's worth.

Maybe it's just an extension of the luau concept. Maybe the sight of mountains of food makes everyone happy. (It makes me nervous, frankly. What happens to all that shrimp? They can't possibly do anything with that mound of dinner rolls! etc.) Because they are popular, there are all kinds of buffets here. So, who can blame the poor Japanese tourists wondering what kind of new buffet was coming to town when they saw all those "Jimmy Buffett" signs.

"The people in Tokyo were asking 'what's a jimmy buffet?'" laughed Reiko, who produces radio programming for Japan out of Waikiki.

Through her connections (she IS the Don of Japanese-Media-in-Waikiki) we were able to get into the grand opening event for Jimmy Buffett's restaurant (NOT a buffet, incidentally) and be a part of the super-intimate I'm-just-playing-for-my-friends kind of show.

The interior is a Disney-esque kind of cave ("underwater" cave?) I love these cool lamps.

Ukulele whiz, Jake Shimabukuro joined in early on and Cecilio Rodriguez (of Cecilio & Kapono fame) came on stage later. Here they are singing the finale, Margaritaville.
"Waaaysted awaaaaay again in Margaritaville..."

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