Thinking Inside the Box
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The beloved bento. A favorite lunch option for Hawaii’s on-the-go diners, this Japanese staple takes the best of what the Islands have to offer — such as fresh, succulent seafood — and combines it with wholesome veggies and grains in a perfectly packaged, pretty-as-you-please box bursting with flavor and nutrition.
When it comes to procuring the most primo of bentos, nobody does it like Mamaya. The Japanese chain serves homestyle cooking in the form of mouthwatering bentos, poke bowls, assorted okazuya and more — all presented with a side of stellar customer service (think endless aloha and smiles for miles).
With its now three Oahu locations serving both kamaaina and visiting clientele at Ala Moana, Pearl Kai and Downtown Honolulu, Mamaya’s menu — armed with an array of affordably priced items — helps you make the most of your meals. When next you are faced with that daily quandary about just what will satisfy those mealtime cravings, make any of these mouth-watering offerings your next order.
Mamaya’s Miso Butterfish ($7.99) is one bento that you just can’t wait to bite into. Featuring tender, flaky butterfish paired with delectable sides, including 13-grain rice, ginger and pickled radish, this box is bursting with flavor and good health.
Retail manager Takeshi Ouchi shares that Miso Butterfish is his personal favorite. The reason? “We take the time to make ours different — getting the fillet, cutting it ourselves and marinating it overnight in our original, house-made miso paste,” he explains. The restaurant then grills and broils the fillet with its trademark finesse. The result? “Compare it to the rest of the restaurants in the area, and you will know for yourself!” he smiles.
Salmon Dynamite ($6.99) is another can’t-miss bento. Its sublime salmon fillet is first broiled, then topped with a seafood mix that’s spiced just right and consists of imitation crab, secret seasonings and mayo. As for local-favorite Garlic Chicken ($5.99), this bento boasts cubes of chicken marinated in a garlic sauce, then deep-fried to a pleasing crisp and paired with sides.
Across the board, Mamaya prioritizes using high-quality products that consistently deliver the best taste and bargain for your budget. Priced at only $5.69, Oyako Don is a traditional Japanese selection made from boiling chicken and eggs in a homemade sauce of shoyu and sake. The dish will indeed bowl you over, and as a delightful bonus, it holds a unique symbolism. “The word oyako is Japanese for ‘parent and child,’ so the chicken is mom and the child, egg,” explains Ouchi.
Need more? Look no further than Nori Bento with Broiled Salmon ($5.50), another nourishing box that’s filled to the brim and includes the added accoutrement of vegetable croquette. Also available to order is the Mamaya Special Poke Bowl ($7.95). Perfect for those who just can’t seem to make up their minds, this item presents a half-and-half bowl combining shoyu and spicy poke varieties (either poke bowl option alone may also be ordered for $7.50 each).
It won’t be long before you, too, fall for these fresh bentos that taste just like Mom’s cooking and are affordable and convenient.
Pearl Kai Shopping Center
98-199 Kamehameha Hwy., Aiea
Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sunday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.