Find Warmth and Comfort at Nabeya MaidoCover Story Features
November 2, 2014
Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Rachel Breit
In an age where the term “DIY” (do it yourself) has taken on a broader meaning — an alternative to the modern consumer culture’s emphasis on relying on others to satisfy needs — Nabeya Maido offers premier do-it-yourself hot pot (nabe) dining. The Market City Shopping Center restaurant blends traditional Japanese tastes with the Taiwanese concept of presenting a vast selection of fresh add-ons to choose from. Yet, Nabeya Maido is so much more than just another nabe restaurant around town — it’s steeped in family and tradition. The pine wood paneling that encompasses the interior of the restaurant was installed by co-owner Kevin Suehiro and his father, a carpenter. The rustic wooden tables and benches are finished products of the father-son duo as well.
“Nabe is a way of dining that brings people closer together. Everyone sits around the hot pot and puts different ingredients into the tasty broth that is shared among everyone,” Suehiro says. “We’re happy when we see customers enjoying their time together as a result of nabe. It’s a totally different approach than, say, eating at a fine-dining establishment.” Here you get good food and fun times, while partaking in an interactive dining experience.
Suehiro, along with his business partner Yusuke “Sam” Sonobe, officially opened the establishment in April, following a soft-opening last December.
“We went to a number of Taiwanese and Japanese hot pot establishments, and thought a hybrid version of the two would be unique,” explains Suehiro.
The broth here is authentically Japanese made from katsuobushi (bonito flakes) and konbu (seaweed). Sonobe, who was trained in Osaka, Japan, and has been in the industry since 2001, prepares the broth from scratch, so patrons may rest assured that it’s free of MSG, flavor enhancers and instant soup stock. Maido Nabe ($7.90) is Nabeya Maido’s signature broth. Suehiro describes it as a simple shoyu-based broth with garlic and chili peppers.
Once the broth is ordered, it’s time to enter “Da Food Cave,” a refrigerated display case, where a plethora of meat, seafood and vegetables are available to help diners personalize their nabe to their liking.
“Maido Nabe starts off with a small kick because of the chili, but it gets milder as you add vegetables, meats and more to the broth,” he says.
However, for nabe newbies who are overwhelmed by the vast selection of ingredients and simply cannot decide, Omakase Platter ($18.90 for two people) is an ideal option, offering a plate full of pork belly, choice ribeye, shrimp, fish balls with roe, won bok, cabbage, bean sprouts, pumpkin, mochi, mushrooms, tofu, aburage and watercress. The eatery’s friendly staff also will provide a helping hand to those unfamiliar with the nabe concept.
Last month, the restaurant began daily lunch service, and Bijin Nabe Lunch Set ($9.90) has quickly become a hit. Maido Nabe enhanced with fresh soy milk is the base. Then, as the broth boils, the soy milk curdles to form pieces of tofu. The lunch set also includes cabbage, won bok, udon, pumpkin, mochi, tofu, aburage, shiitake and enoki mushrooms, chicken, pork belly and watercress.
Sonobe’s house-made sauces are a must as well. Think yuzu ponzu, or perhaps gomadare, a sauce featuring miso, sesame and hand-grated vegetables. Sam’s sauce, with shoyu, garlic and grated vegetables, is a popular choice, as is Lily’s sauce, which incorporates spicy gochujang. For a sampling of Sam’s Sauce, try Pipikaula Poke ($3.90).
“The market for nabe-style dining is growing,” Suehiro states. “Not only is it (nabe) delicious, but it is probably one of the healthiest ways to eat — nothing is fried or grilled. Nowadays, so many people are trying to eat healthier and wiser. What can be better?” Not much. Although, Kirin draft beer served in a chilled mug or Yuzu Chu Hi with Calpico are cool and refreshing hot-pot complements.
“Teaming up with Sam, we are able to provide hot pots of aloha to all who come,” Suehiro says with a smile. “Here at Nabeya Maido, we want our customers to have the best dining experience, which means leaving the establishment full, satisfied and with a smile on their face.”
Market City Shopping Center
2919 Kapiolani Blvd., Honolulu
Daily, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.