Pagoda is a fun place to eat with the family when you're on Oahu. Both Locals and tourists alike enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, and the friendly service. The most unusual aspect of this restaurant is that it is surrounded by a large Koi pond, so it seems like the restaurant is "floating" on the fish pond.
When friends come from the mainland to visit, I like to bring them to Pagoda to get them (a short distance) away from the grand hotels of Waikiki Beach and into the Waikiki I know. When walking through the shops in Waikiki, visitors could just as easily be in Santa Monica, CA, or Fort Lauderdale, FL. It is nice for visitors to the island to get off "the strip." It is not as beautiful or ornate as the grand hotels in Waikiki, but it has a local feeling to it and is simply a fun place to eat with the family. Pagoda is not a palm shack on a beach — it is the real Oahu; the kind of place real people who live in Hawaii eat. Pagoda does not serve the stereotypical Hollywood version of "Hawaiian" food that just involves putting a slice of pineapple on everything.
The food is a great mix of local cuisine. This means that Pagoda offers a mix of Asian, Hawaiian and Western buffet favorites. The food is fresh and there is good variety. My favorites are the king crab legs, the fresh fish of the day, the shrimp tempura, the sushi rolls and the yummy purple sweet potatoes at the salad bar. The soft-serve ice cream is always popular with kids and adults alike and the sprinkles bar makes the soft-serve extra-special.
There are a few restaurants in Honolulu that are very similar in cuisine style to Pagoda. Makino Chaya at Aloha Tower, Tsukiji Fish Market at Ala Moana and Todai in Waikiki have very similar food and are both very popular. The prices are similar (Tsukiji is a bit pricier than the others) and all of these restaurants get mixed reviews online. Some people rave about the food, others complain about the quality or how alike all these restaurants are. Personally, I really enjoy the food, especially at Todai and Pagoda. Pagoda though, really is something special because of the creative landscaping.
Pagoda is especially family-friendly. Although there are a lot of healthy, colorful choices for toddlers and for kids my daughter likes the live fish in the ponds better than the cooked fish on her plate. She loves the fish. There are hundreds. They range in color from white to deep red to black. A walkway goes three quarters of the way around the semi-circular restaurant and up to a pretty waterfall that overlooks the largest area of the fish pond. She excitedly climbs up by the waterfall and look down at the fish. She makes up stories about them; "these fish are sleeping and those fish are visiting their grandma." Of course, children should be supervised while they peer into the fish pond.
Pagoda is just behind Ala Moana mall, so is very easy to get to if you are staying in Waikiki/Honolulu. They are closed Monday and Tuesday, but Wednesday through Saturday they have a great breakfast and dinner buffet. They also have a beautiful Sunday (and Holiday) Brunch. I recommend making reservations if you are going to the dinner buffet or Sunday Brunch.
Dinner Buffet Details are as follows:
5:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Kids under 5 eat free!
Monday "“ Thursday: Adults: $25.95 / Children (5 – 10 yrs.): $12.95
Friday "“ Sunday: Adults: $27.95 / Children (5 – 10 yrs.): $14.95
For Reservations call: