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Makino Gets Even Hotter

Cover Story Features

August 27, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Makino Chaya is constantly upping the ante of what customers can expect to receive for their dollars’ worth. Earlier this year, the uberpopular buffet restaurant expanded its repertoire with the re-introduction of a pre-set menu that was included in the all-you-can-eat buffet price.

  • Carl Melson with the flavorful Washugyu beef just a portion of the 20,000 pounds of beef that's available.
  • Irene Lei Kamelo samples shabu shabu.
  • Miso Butterfish Bento ($4.97)
  • Seafood abounds at Makino Chaya.
  • Assorted desserts to satisfy any sweet tooth.
  • Assorted seafood and vegetables perfect for Shabu Shabu.
  • Makino Chaya executive kitchen manager John Arciaga and president of operations Jo Makino
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Well, Makino Chaya’s done it again, because now diners can shabu shabu to their hearts’ content for the all-inclusive set dinner price of $29.98 Monday-Thursday and $30.98 Friday-Sunday. (Lunch costs $13.98 Monday-Friday, $16.98 Saturday-Sunday but does not include shabu shabu.)

“It’s like Disneyland here you pay an admission and then you get to try everything,” laughs Jo Makino, president of operations.

The Aiea eatery just began offering the hot pot options earlier this summer after watching the steady rise in shabu shabu’s popularity.

“The basic cuisine in Japan was teriyaki, tempura and stuff like that, but now that a lot of people are getting familiar with Japanese food, they’re starting to venture out in other directions,” Makino explains. “Hot pots are getting pretty big, so we want to grow with the trends too.”

Each shabu shabu hot pot is portioned into halves and filled with both a miso and shoyu broth so diners have a choice of how to cook their meal, and all orders come with vegetables like shiitake mushrooms, choy sum, Napa cabbage and such.

“They can order the seafood shabu shabu, where there is going to be King Crab, Dungeness Crab, Fresh Oysters, Shrimp, Clams,” says Makino.

Or folks can indulge with a platter of Washugyu beef, a specialty made by crossing the famous Japanese Black Wagyu (the cattle used to make Kobe beef) and the finest American Black Angus.

“It’s kind of like an American Kobe beef,” Makino says. And just like Kobe cattle, Washugyu cows are raised in the best of conditions.

“They feed (the cattle) beer to relax the muscles, they give it massages. It’s very organic,” Makino says. “The cow lives a stress-free life, and that makes the meat more tender, more flavorful, and that’s why we’re going to use that kind of beef.”

Unlike other restaurants, where a single serving of Washugyu can cost between $40 and $50, Makino Chaya is offering this super prime beef at all-you-can-eat portions (during dinner hours only), so customers can indulge with a 3to 4-ounce steak stir-fried on the teppanyaki, or opt for thinner slices of the tender beef that cook perfectly in the bubbling broths of the shabu shabu hot pot.

“We ordered around 20,000 pounds of the Washugyu, so we’re going to serve that until it runs out,” Makino explains of the extravagant offer. “It’s kind of like, ‘for a limited time’ right now, but if it runs out, maybe we can order more or offer it as a special.”

On top of that, Makino Chaya still offers its renowned all-you-can-eat seafood buffet, a true smorgasbord of Snow Crab, King Crab, Garlic Dungeness Crab, Soft Shell Crab, Lobster, Garlic Shrimp, Green Mussels, Manila Clams and a wide assortment of poke.

“Ahi Poke, Tako Poke, Top Shell Poke, Green Mussel Poke, you name it, we got it,” Makino says with a smile. “You can splurge on all the seafood you want here it’s the best quality you can get.”

That guarantee extends to the menu as well, where hungry guests can order made-to-order plate after plate of Miso Butterfish, Puri Puri Shrimp, Sake Shio Yaki, Iddako Karage, Pork Katsu, Shrimp Tempura, Soft Shell Crab and more.

“We fry the Shrimp Tempura and the Soft Shell Crab to order, that way we can control the quality so when it comes to your table it’s nice and crispy,” Makino notes, adding there also is an array of fresh sushi and sashimi all made-to-order, including Uni, Hamachi, Soft Shell Crab Roll, Ahi, Salmon and, of course, the Fresh Oysters.

“We’re like a Costco of restaurants, where you can find any kind of Japanese cuisine you could ever want,” Makino contends. “We’ve got it all!”

Makino Chaya

  • Where
    • MWestridge Shopping Center
    • 98-150 Kaonohi St. #218
    • Aiea, HI 96701
  • Call
    • (808) 486.5100
  • Hours
    • Lunch Hours/Prices:
    • 11:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Monday-Friday ($13.98)
    • 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday ($16.98)
    • Dinner Hours/Prices:
    • 5:45-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday ($29.98)
    • 5:30-9 p.m. Friday-Sunday ($30.98)
    • Note:
    • Yakiniku not offered here
  • Where
    • Makino-Makittii
    • 2380 Kuhio Ave.
    • Waikiki, HI 96815
  • Call
    • (808) 923.2260
  • Hours
    • Lunch Hours/Prices:
    • 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday ($14.98)
    • 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday ($18.98)
    • 5:30-9:30 p.m. daily (Happy Buffet, $22.98)
    • Dinner Hours/Prices:
    • 5:30-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday ($34.98)
    • 5:30-10 p.m. Friday-Sunday ($35.98)
    • $2 for two hours only at Miramar in Waikiki, 5:30-10 p.m., Monday-Friday; Saturday and Sunday all day
    • Note:
    • Makino-Makittii also is offering Washugyu beef and yakiniku platters – complete with Washugyu, seafood, live abalone and vegetables in its all-you-can-eat buffet. No shabu shabu offered here.