‘Local Potluck’ of Flavors
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Not only does the Yoo family run Aja Sushi & Bento, but most of their menu is derived from recipes they have long enjoyed in their own kitchen.
“All the recipes are basically our own,” explains owner Lauren Yoo, adding that some dishes also come from things that friends and employees have shared with them.
“Our spread is like a local potluck where everybody brings their favorite dish, and you always end up having some sushi, some chicken, salad, noodles — a little bit of everything.
“It’s basically something that a local mom would cook for you — if she only had the time,” Yoo adds.
Aja has 13 different side dishes to choose from, along with 13 entrees and a selection of pre-made bentos and Korean sushi.
Yoo’s parents started Aja 15 years ago with a small hole-in-the-wall joint. Business picked up and they began adding more and more items to the menu. Now, they’ve got three locations: Ala Moana Center, UH Campus Center and Ala Moana Building.
For a taste of what Aja has to offer, you can create your own combo with a Two-choice Plate Lunch ($11.99). You can pick two of any of Aja’s array of entrees, three sides, and a choice of white or brown rice. Pictured here are tossed salad, broccoli and choy sum for the sides, and the salmon and garlic chicken for the entrees.
“We use fresh salmon and it’s grilled,” explains Yoo. “And then the garlic chicken is our grandmother’s recipe from Korea.”
If you don’t know what to include in your combo, you always can grab a ready-togo Garlic Chicken and Spam Musubi Combo ($6.49).
“It’s really popular,” Yoo says. “It’s very easy, grab and go — great if you’re heading to the beach.”
Aja Sushi & Bento
ALA MOANA CENTER, MAKAI MARKET FOOD COURT
1450 ALA MOANA BLVD., HONOLULU (AMONG OTHER LOCATIONS)
Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.-7p.m.