It’s a family ‘a-fare’ for local bento shop
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After Lauren Yoo had been working in in vestment banking for about a decade, she began to grow tired of the industry. Thinking about what she’d like to do next, her thoughts returned to the restaurant that her parents had founded: Aja Sushi & Bento.
“I thought it would be really great if I could go back and help my parents take this business to the next level,” she says.
It worked. Now Aja Sushi & Bento has expanded to include three locations. And it’s become a whole-family affair, with Yoo’s brother also moving home to help with the business a few years ago.
“I think food has always been my passion, as well as my family’s,” Yoo says. “We all love to eat, and we all love to cook.”
The Yoos’ passion for food is evident in the fact that much of their menu is comprised of items that have been in the family for generations.
To get a taste of their local, home-style cooking, Yoo says the Two-Choice Plate ($11.99) is a good option. It allows you to choose from a selection of 13 entrees, including the Korean chicken wings and furikake panko fish pictured here. The Two-
Choice Plate also comes with your choice of three side dishes, including Korean long rice noodles, broccoli and kimchee daikon, and white or brown rice.
Aja Sushi & Bento also serves up ready-to-go bentos, like the Mini Bento ($6.99) featuring salmon and garlic chicken, which Yoo says is the most popular.
Just recently, Aja unveiled a couple of salads, including Grilled Salmon Salad and Garlic Chicken Salad ($8.99 each) as a way to cater to customers who are trying to cut carbs or want a healthier option. (Note: All dishes also come with the option of substituting rice with an extra vegetable side dish.) Each salad features corn, tomatoes, red cabbage, broccoli, edamame and black olives, all over a generous bed of lettuce.
Aja Sushi & Bento
Ala Moana Center
Makai Market Food Court
1450 Ala Moana Blvd.Honolulu
Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.–9 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.–7 p.m.