Eatery takes diners back to bento basicsA La Carte
October 3, 2017
Story By: Maria Kanai | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo
Sometimes, all you want is a familiar, “local kine” bento — especially after a long day of shopping at Ala Moana Center. Throw in garlic chicken and lightly seasoned salmon fillet, a scoop of white rice and side veggies like daikon or choy sum, and you’ve got a simple meal that you’ve probably grown up eating, especially if you’re from Hawaii.
Aja Sushi & Bento’s no-frills, home-style food is a true gem in Ala Moana’s bustling Makai Market Food Court. And everything tastes even better when you know that these recipes have been passed down from employees and their family and friends.
General manager Lauren Yoo’s favorite is the garlic chicken. Bite-sized pieces of juicy, fried chicken are coated generously with garlic seasoning, making them a popular choice at Aja. You can add garlic chicken to your two-choice plate lunch ($12.99), and then choose one more delicious entree. The other pickings include Korean spicy wings, shoyu chicken, pork adobo, roast beef, panko fish, meat jun, salmon, saba, nishime (vegetable stew), tofu stir-fry, shrimp tempura or mandoo.
Mini bentos, like the meat jun and garlic chicken combo ($7.99) with white or brown rice, also are must-tries.
Another popular item on the menu is Korean sushi ($4.79), made with choy sum, daikon, egg, beef and carrots. It’s easy to eat on the go, and even more delicious when paired with the house-made sauce.