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Veg'n Out

Sharing in good taste

By Andy Beth Miller Photos By Nathalie Walker
May 18, 2014

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I was the youngest of three girls growing up, and although my siblings were wonderful and loving, sharing wasn’t always something we were necessarily thrilled about. Many memories have I of sisterly scuffles over something or other we wanted all to ourselves. Without fail, my mom would reach in amid the hair pulling, name-calling and alligator-tear tantrums to remind us in her sweet, Southern drawl, “Now girls, remember sharing means caring!”

Well that phrase never sat well with my stubborn spirit, yet fate has seen to teach me my lesson after all — with Nabeya Maido, a local Japanese nabe restaurant, as my sharing sensei.

From the first warm welcome to the final goodbye, everything about this establishment — right down to the way the food itself is prepared and served — exudes aloha, which is fitting, as the word “maido” actually means “aloha” in common Japanese verbiage. The hot pots are placed at the center of the table and cooked right onsite before being shared communally among the dining party. This is considered the most social way to eat with friends and family, and I heartily agree. (Now in the South, we call that “family style,” and folks down there just eat it up.)

There’s something about sitting down and sharing a meal, dipping your plates from one central place — it’s mouthwatering magic that creates instant community and fellowship around one single feast.

“For us, it’s about customers enjoying the food and feeling a part of the experience,” explains general manager Kevin Suehiro.

And there is plenty here for us vegetarians to experience. Have a seat and share some shabu shabu (prices vary) with me, friends. A flavorful broth base begins our meal and it’s up to us to add whatever goodness from the garden we desire. The pricing is based on plate colors of Green ($2.90), Red ($4.90), Yellow ($3.90) and Blue ($5.90) — with patrons coming in before 5:30 p.m. receiving 20 percent off.

Recently, we opted for a wholesome array of yellow and green plates with items including eryngi mushroom, pumpkin, veggie gyoza, tofu, Korean mochi, udon, broccoli and okra — served alongside optional Shabu Shabu Tare Set ($3.90) of Goma sauce, Ponzu sauce, Sam’s sauce, Lily’s sauce, green onions and shredded daikon.

As we eat, Suehiro lets me in on a delicious secret about their dipping sauces, which he describes as Nabeya Maido’s “prides and joys.” “Sam’s Sauce,” a shoyu based concoction with garlic, veggie and fruit infusions, is named after Suehiro’s business partner, as it is his favorite. The Korean bean paste dipping sauce, best described as spicy with depth, is named after Sam’s daughter Lily. This “Lily Sauce” has just a hint of honey sweetness hidden among all that spunk and spice — much like its namesake, no doubt!

And after talking story over good eats with Suehiro, I finally see: Sharing really does mean caring, and oh, how satisfying it can be.

Nabeya Maido

Market City Shopping Center
2919 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 204, Honolulu
739-7739
Monday-Friday, 4-10 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.