Honolulu's best holiday buffets

Do like the locals and eat out for Thanksgiving
Lynn Cook

In Hawaii, locals often celebrate Thanksgiving Day by gathering with family and friends at a dinner buffet in a local restaurant or hotel. Then, a day or two later, another family gathering happens at home. If you plan to visit Honolulu over the holiday, follow the local crowd. Book a Thanksgiving meal at one of their five favorite spots, listed below. Costs range from $25 to $60 per person for adults. Reservations are a must.

The Royal Hawaiian. The menus for the brunch and dinner buffets at The Pink Palace of the Pacific, as locals call it, are as grand as the hotel. Meals are served beachside in the Surf Room; strolling musicians play Hawaiian favorites. On the menu: traditional turkey plus local favorites, such as cream of lobster soup, salad of grilled asparagus with Kahuku corn, Thai spring rolls, stuffed sake-poached shiitake mushroom with lup cheong (sweet Chinese pork sausage), crisp fried milk fish, osso buco, and royal bread pudding with Maui vanilla bean sauce. Visitors and locals turn out in their holiday finest. Brunch $50, seatings at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.; dinner buffet $53, first seating 4:30-6:30, second seating 8-9; 2259 Kalakaua Ave.; 808/921-4600.

Sam Choy's Breakfast, Lunch & Crab. Award-winning chef Sam Choy loves to serve Hawaii's multiethnic dishes. What's on the menu for Thanksgiving? Traditional turkey stuffed with Portuguese sweet bread dressing. Also Chinese noodles, Korean kalbi ribs, Hawaiian poke (marinated raw fish) and Okinawan sweet potato pie with coconut haupia topping. Brunch 10-2; turkey dinner buffet begins at 4 pm.; about $30 per person; 580 N. Nimitz Hwy. near downtown Honolulu; 808/545-7979.

Sheraton Moana Surfrider. It's easy to imagine the elegance of an island home while dining at the Banyan Veranda, the hotel's restaurant surrounding its hundred-year-old banyan tree. Thanksgiving dinner is served buffet style, while Hawaiian musicians entertain. On the menu: turkey, seared salmon with crab mousse, dim sum, steamed Hawaiian snapper, Kalua duck, Chinese calamari, old-fashioned apple pie, and Okinawan and Molokai sweet potato pie. Dinner seating at 4:30 and 7:30; $55; 2365 Kalakaua Ave.; 808/921-4600.

Turtle Bay Resort. On the menu, designed by chef Hector Morales: turkey with macadamia-nut dressing, seared scallops with wasabi caviar cream, sesame-crusted snapper, and tako poke (marinated raw octopus). The 180-degree panoramic view of Oahu's North Shore isn't bad, either. Noon-5 in the hotel's Kuilima ballroom; $42 per person, $19 ages 4-11; 57-091 Kamehameha Hwy., Kahuku; 808/293-6000.

Shanghai Bistro. Thanksgiving Day, or any day, folks in Hawaii ask, "How about Chinese?" Li May Tang's elegant Asian restaurant at the gateway to Waikiki serves a turkey roasted in cilantro, jasmine tea, and beer, accompanied by scallop spring roll in a champagne glass and French-style baked pumpkin pudding. $28; 1778 Ala Moana Blvd. across from the yacht harbor; 808/955-8668.