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Where bentos taste just like Mama’s cooking

By Serena Valdez Photos By Lawrence Tabudlo
May 26, 2015

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One of the best things about food is how it can transform into an experience. A small waft of bacon can give one a flashback to Saturday morning family breakfast. One bite of apple pie and you’re reminiscing about past Thanksgiving dinners.

At Mamaya, everything on the menu takes countless tastings and attention to detail to achieve the feeling that after one bite, your taste buds are convinced Mom did the cooking. Just as the kanji terms mama and ya that make up the restaurant’s name translate to “mother’s house,” so is the concept for the Japanese- style eatery.

“What we strive for is getting it as close to as what it would be if your mother was cooking it,” says store manager Dan Kobayashi. “We take pride in everything we put into these dishes.”

Although Mamaya’s most popular dish is Miso Butterfish Bento ($7.99), the newest addition to the menu already is becoming a household name. Furikake Salmon Bento ($6.99) is Kobayashi’s personal favorite because the salmon retains its juiciness even after being breaded in Panko, fried and topped with furikake.

Served with a homemade tartar sauce — unique for its use of boiled eggs, mayonnaise and relish — it really tops off the salmon, says Kobayashi. Also found in the bento are atsuyaki tamago, nishime and rice topped with ume (or sour plums).

For a quick lunch on the go, one of the best-sellers at Mamaya is Special Poke Bowl ($7.95), which is a half-and-half bowl combining shoyu and spicy poke varieties — perfect if you can’t decide which poke to order.

The spicy poke is dressed in a mayonnaise and Sriracha sauce mixed with onion, green onion and masago, while the shoyu poke also features onion and green onion, but is mixed with shoyu and white sesame. Also found in the bowl are fresh seaweed salad and white or multigrain rice, made exclusively for Mamaya.

Whether you seek a bento or a bowl, Mamaya is the go-to spot for authentic Japanese cuisine made just like Mama’s.


Pearl Kai Shopping Center
98-199 Kamehameha Hwy.,


8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sunday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.