Makino Chaya Brings Back the Menu

Cover Story Features

April 17, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Makino Chaya is an island favorite when it comes to buffet-style eating. After opening nearly a decade ago, it has become the place to enjoy mountains of crabs legs, grilled salmon, lobster tails, calamari steak, all styles of shrimp, sushi and any other deep-sea creature you can dream up, all for an incredibly affordable price.

  • Makino Chaya employees Kacie Gushiken and Devin Yamada with Makino Chaya's new menus.
  • Oysters with cheese and bacon are making a comeback at the eatery.
  • Puripuri Tempura is a new item to hit the menu.
  • Agedashi Tofu
  • Soba and Baby Tako Karaage are other favorites at Makino Chaya.
  • Soba and Baby Tako Karaage are other favorites at Makino Chaya.
  • Teppan chef Long Nguyen cooks up some delicious cuisine for hungry customers.
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But, as Bob Dylan once sang, times are a-changing. Now, in addition to all the items folks expect to find in the buffet line, Makino Chaya will be offering even more food with the re-introduction of a pre-set menu.

“We’re going back to our roots,” says Jo Makino, president of operations. “In the past, we used to have a menu along with the buffet, and everything was all-you-can-eat. Everyone really liked (the menu) — that’s what distinguished us from the regular buffets — and people always ask about it, and I think it’s time to bring it back.”

With the menu’s return to the dining room also comes the arrival of new items like Puri Puri Shrimp, Saba Shio Yaki, Sake Shio Yaki, Iddako Karage and Kuro Buta Sausage. Past buffet favorites like Miso Butterfish, Pork Katsu and Half-Shell Oysters also will be making a much-anticipated comeback.

“It’s pretty much all-you-can-eat everything,” Makino exclaims. “It’s going to be food galore!”

In addition, some items currently found in the buffet line will be shifted onto the menu, like the tempura.

“The tempura we normally put on the buffet right now, but we’re going to do that to-order so that way it comes out nice and hot, nice and crispy,” explains Makino of the switch.

“All the stuff on the menu is cooked to order,” he adds, “so everything comes out fresh, hot, crispy — you name it.”

Cold items also will be made-to-order from the sushi bar: Maguro, Hokki Gai, Ebi, Tamago, Unagi, Soy Bean Roll, Ikura, Soft Shell Crab Roll, Sashimi Mori and more.

“We have all the udons and sobas, we even have curry, too,” Makino adds. “And we’re going to do a monthly special every month starting in May.”

Dishes being considered as future features include King Crab, Live Abalone and Dungeness Crab with Black Bean and Garlic.

“I think we’re going to change the menu quite often,” Makino says. “It just depends how our customers like it and what’s in season.”

And the best part is, customers don’t have to choose which way they want to dine. For the regular buffet price ($13.98, lunch, weekdays; $16.98, lunch, weekends; $28.98, dinner, weekdays; and $29.98, dinner, weekends), people can eat to their hearts’ content from both the buffet line and the new menu.

“People can order off the menu and they can also pick from the buffet. It gives people an option,” Makino explains. “It’s better, I think; it’s a whole different ‘buffet.'”

Makino Chaya

  • Where
    • 98-150 Kaonohi Street #B219
    • Aiea, HI 96701
  • Call
    • (808) 486-5100
  • Hours
    • Lunch Hours
    • 11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
    • Monday – Friday
    • 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
    • Saturday – Sunday
    • Dinner Hours
    • 5:45 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    • Monday – Thursday
    • 5:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    • Friday – Sunday
  • Notes
    • Even more changes are in store for Makino Chaya. The 10-year-old restaurant will be undergoing a few renovations in the coming months, beginning with an upgrade of the entire air-conditioning system and a new coat of paint on the walls. Additional upgrades also are being discussed, so stay tuned.

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