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Cover Story

Many Reasons to Be Merry

By Alana Folen Photos By Leah Friel
November 25, 2012

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Magic happens this holiday season at Makino Chaya. Located in Westridge Shopping Center in Aiea, this Japanese seafood restaurant offers up a superlative spread of more than 100 mouth-watering items on its impressive all-you-can-eat buffet, and better yet, in the spirit of the season, Makino Chaya also has lowered its prices. The lunch buffet is available weekdays from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. now priced at only $10.98 per person, and weekends from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at $18.98 per person. The dinner buffet is offered Monday through Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for $24.98 per person, Fridays from 6 to 9 p.m. at $24.98 per person, and weekends from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at $26.98 per person.

“We’ve lowered our prices a bit, so our buffet is a lot more affordable for locals,” says Makino Chaya president Jo Makino. “What we’re selling is value. We always have the same good, high-quality food, but now it’s at a better price. People usually come here to celebrate a special occasion, and these days it can be hard to pay a lot of money for good food. We’re a local restaurant and we cater to a lot of local people, so we don’t want to charge them an arm and a leg for their meals. Plus, people are spending a lot of money on Christmas gifts this time of year, too.”

According to general manager of operations, Chris Mitchell, seafood is the establishment’s specialty.

“Snow crab, lobster, miso butter-fish — they’re all a big hit, although the higher-quality items really stand out during dinnertime.”

If you’re a newcomer to the eatery, must-have items from the buffet line also include lobster and steak from the teppan grill, shrimp tempura, furikake-crusted ahi, vegetable tempura, Seafood Dynamite, an assortment of hand-rolled sushi, an extravagant dessert bar and chocolate fountain, and more.

“Locals seem to love Seafood Dynamite, which features a mixture of lobster and crab topped with cheese in a crab shell,” Mitchell explains.

Makino Chaya already is preparing for the Christmas rush and will, in fact, be open Christmas Day from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. (lunch) and from 5:30 to 9 p.m. (dinner). Mitchell says reservations are an absolute must.

“We’ve hosted quite a few company Christmas parties, and we recommend scheduling your party on a weekday because it’s always a mad-house on the weekends. You can book out the entire 320-seat restaurant if you want.”

“On Christmas Day we also will be offering prime rib as part of our buffet, along with a much more varied seafood selection,” Makino adds.

And we all know that a festive feast isn’t complete without the sweetest of endings. Makino Chaya has raised the bar once again and has now added the finest creations from JJ Bistro & French Pastry to its dessert selection.

For those on-the-go, Dining Out suggests opting for one of Makino Chaya’s delicious bentos such as Miso Butterfish, Baked Salmon and Barbecue Chicken ($4.97 each) or Chicken Katsu, Garlic Ahi and Crab Meat Salad ($3.97 each). Mitchell says it’s common for the restaurant to sell 1,000 orders of Miso Butterfish bento per week. To pre-order your bento, call 486-5100.

And as a way to give back to its loyal patrons, Makino Chaya is now showcasing a special promotion. For every $100 gift certificate that you purchase, you’ll receive a $20 restaurant voucher redeemable to April 30.

“We always feature special promotions during the holiday season and always have discounts available for our kamaaina, military and seniors,” Mitchell says.

“We have weekly specials in TGIF and Dining Out as well, which makes it more affordable — especially coming in to the holiday season when a lot of people have parties. It’s a super good deal,” Makino adds. “It gives our customers incentive to come eat here and have a good time.”

To save even more on your future visits to Makino Chaya, be sure to inquire within about the Makino VIP Card.

“It’s important that we cater to the locals. They are the ones who have supported us throughout the years,” Makino says.

Makino Chaya

Westridge Shopping Center
98-150 Kaonohi St. #218, Aiea
486.5100
LUNCH
Monday-Friday, 11:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
DINNER
Monday-Thursday, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Fridays, 6-9 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday, 5:30-9 p.m.