A hot pot full of love and flavor
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One of my favorite childhood memories is eating hot pot with my family at home. My mom would have all the ingredients plated separately, and we would cook it in an electric hot pot at the table. There would be sliced chicken and beef, shrimp, fish balls, tofu, mushrooms and vegetables, along with some dipping sauces on the side. Toward the end of the meal, we would add udon noodles and a raw egg to finish our soup.
It was always a delicious meal, but I think what I enjoyed even more was the true family-style concept, in which everything is shared and there’s plenty of interaction.
So, yes, I’m a little bias, but as I sit at one of the tables in the new Nabeya Maido restaurant in Market City Shopping Center, I instantly feel at home. Nabeya Maido offers authentic Japanese nabe and shabu shabu, featuring tasty homemade broth and sauces made from scratch.
To start, customers choose the type of soup base they want (Maido Nabe, Bijin Nabe, Akakara Spicy Nabe or Japanese Curry Nabe). The soup stocks are made fresh daily, and take about three hours to prepare. The most popular is Maido Nabe ($7.90), a shoyu-based broth made with konbu and katsuo bushi (kelp and bonito flakes), in addition to a hint of garlic and chili pepper. There’s no MSG or added flavor enhancers.
After you select your broth type, you pick your ingredients (meats, veggies, seafood and starches) from a refrigerated display case. Each item is served on a color-coded plate (Green $2.90, Yellow $3.90, Red $4.90 and Blue $5.90).
Among the popular choices are Tsukune with Nankotsu (ground chicken mix with cartilage, $3.90), pumpkin ($2.90), scallops ($5.90), Tokyo Nigi (leeks, $2.90), Shimeji Mushrooms ($3.90), salmon ($4.90) and Kurobuta pork belly ($4.90).
For those who can’t decide, the Omakase Platter for Two ($18.90) is a balanced combination of meat, seafood and veggies to share. On the platter are bean sprouts, cabbage, won bok, ribeye, pork belly, shiitake mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, aburage and tofu, shrimp, fish balls, mochi, pumpkin and watercress.
“At the end of the meal, we have people who pair udon or ramen with the soup,” notes Kevin Suehiro, general manager. “And we allow everybody to take the remaining broth home with them. We also offer complimentary refills on the nabe.”
For Shabu Shabu, Nabeya Maido offers four original dipping sauces — Gomadare (sesame miso sauce), Ponzu (Yuzu Ponzu with citrus), Sam’s Sauce (shoyu garlic sauce made with fruits and vegetables) and Lily Sauce (hot and spicy). Also on the menu are some original pupu dishes priced at $3.90 each, including Pipikaula Poke, made with Sam’s Sauce;
Maido Yudofu, fresh tofu with Gomadare sauce; and Kimchee Chikuwa, consisting of Chikuwa fishcake stuffed with kimchee.
The restaurant also offers happy hour (20 percent off menu items, excluding bottled wines) until 5:30 p.m. daily, and there’s plenty of free parking.
Suehiro teamed up with his friend, Yusuke “Sam” Sonobe, to open Nabeya Maido last December. They both have extensive backgrounds in the restaurant business, both in Hawaii and Japan — Suehiro in management and Sonobe as a chef.
“Sam was going to be a dad (daughter Lily is six-months-old now), so he decided to start his own business, to better provide for his family,” explains Suehiro, a 1989 graduate of Iolani School. “We decided to serve hot pot because he can make a good dashi and good sauces, and customers enjoy (the hot pot style of) cooking it. For a lot of Japanese people, this is what we eat at home. It’s simple Japanese comfort food. But, we also added the Taiwanese way of hot pot, in which customers pick their plates from the display cases themselves.
“Also for me, I just enjoy being on the floor, making sure everybody enjoys their time here. I want people to come in, eat, have fun and leave with a smile on their face. It’s about enjoying nabe, and bringing people together, families and friends.”
Market City Shopping Center
2919 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 204, Honolulu
Monday-Friday, 4-10 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.