Some Steakhouse Alternatives For Dad

It’s funny how we let our food define us. On Mother’s Day we generally head for brunches and lunches filled with salads and special desserts, while on Father’s Day we scramble to make reservations at our city steak houses. At institutions like Ruth’s Chris, patrons make their Father’s Day reservation for the following year as they leave the restaurant. “People like to book up early since they know we get pretty busy,” says general manager Don Assam.

So it’s not surprising that while the steakhouses are almost full, lots of other restaurants are offering meaty specials for dads. And try as I might, I can’t find a single promotion of a salad or vegetable dish that celebrates the day. There are, though, plenty of alternatives to traditional steakhouse dining if you’ve left it too late to treat your dad.

James Lee

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Hee Hing owner James Lee. Jo McGarry photos

One meaty, affordable option is to eat yakiniku style. Lots of veggies and salads for those who wish, and a mostly varied menu of meat and seafood that can be cooked the way you like it. And it seems that while the average grocery bill is skyrocketing, yakiniku prices have remained almost the same.

At Camellia Buffet on McCully Street, one of the city’s oldest yakiniku restaurants, the lunch buffet – a smorgasbord of options that include a variety of kim chee and house specials – is still just $17.95. At dinner, the addition of more seafood along with sirloin steak, takes the price to $25.95, but still, that’s remarkable value considering the buffets are usually an allyou-can eat affair …

A restaurant that is bursting at the seams during this celebratory month is one that transitions easily from one generation to the next.

While families celebrate graduation parties at Hee Hing on Kapahulu Avenue, hundreds more will descend on the decades-old restaurant to celebrate with their fathers. Hee Hing owner James Lee attributes the remarkable customer loyalty to the fact that many people have grown up with the restaurant as a part of their lives.

“People still remember me as a little kid working in the restaurant,” says the humble restaurant patriarch. “We’re very fortunate that people think of us when they are looking for a place to celebrate with their families.” This year, Father’s Day celebrations include seafood and prime rib buffet for just $28.

As one of Honolulu’s oldest and best-loved Chinese restaurants, Hee Hing is an easy choice if you have a large group and want to celebrate Father’s Day or graduation with an affordable menu – and lots of room.

“Weddings, graduations, banquets and funerals,” says Lee with a smile. “We do it all.”

Happy eating!