Bring on the Bentos

Columns Ono, You Know

February 18, 2012

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Happy Sunday and happy eating, Ono readers! For me, weekends are the perfect, most opportune time to eat to my heart’s content. Unlike weekdays with a long to-do list to conquer and deadlines to meet, weekends are all about relaxing, sleeping in, having fun, working out and really enjoying every bite of fabulous cuisine.

Now, if it weren’t for being able to visit a number of top-notch restaurants a week as part of my job responsibilities, it would be hard to find time to snag a delicious lunch — and a homemade peanut butter sandwich just doesn’t cut it every time. That’s when I bask in the glory of an onolicious bento! Bentos could perhaps be one of the best culinary creations on earth — it’s a hearty meal, usually consisting of carbs, vegetables and protein, beautifully presented on a single plate. No hassle involved and extremely satisfying for the tummy.

So, this week, tremendously grateful for bentos, I visited some of my favorite restaurants known for their Ono, You Know bento masterpieces. Thanks to them, finding something to eat is absolutely stress-free. Go ahead, I say, bring on the bentos!

Kozo Sushi

  • The editor is all smiles with Kozo's Ebi Fried Bento ($6.99).
  • Fried Chicken Bento ($6.99)
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On the go? Kozo Sushi has it all, especially when it comes to mouth-watering takeout sushi options. Yet, Kozo does-n’t stop there, instead this well-known eatery is making a name for itself with its delicious bentos as well. With many locations islandwide, Kozo Sushi Pearl City is just one of the many locations pleasing patrons with tasty bentos such as Fried Chicken Bento ($6.99) and Ebi Fried Bento ($6.99).

Fried Chicken Bento features morsels of crispy fried chicken drizzled with Kozo’s signature teriyaki sauce, furikake rice, two pieces of shinko maki and two pieces of futo maki (consisting of tofu, kampyo, cucumber and egg) and a tossed salad.

For those craving shrimp, Ebi Fried Bento will quickly have your mouth watering and stomach growling in hunger, as it presents you with three irresistible pieces of fried shrimp topped with a savory teriyaki sauce. The shrimp takes the spotlight here, no doubt, but it’s paired with a serving of furikake rice, one piece of inari sushi, two pieces of shinko maki and a side salad to make for one scrumptious meal.

And we can’t leave out the classic Chicken Katsu Bento ($6.99) presented with thinly sliced chicken kastu served over white rice and doused in Kozo’s house-made katsu sauce. For a match made in heaven, the bento comes with two pieces each of shinko maki and California maki, one piece of cone sushi and a small tossed salad.

Perfect for a quick lunch or dinner, Kozo’s bentos are the cure all when you want to devour Japanese cuisine that’s just as delicious as it is filling, all at the snap of a finger.

Kozo Sushi
1029 Makolu St. #C (and various locations)
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Sekiya’s Restaurant & Delicatessen

  • Sekiya's Regular Bento ($7.25)
  • Sekiya's has been in business for decades.
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When it’s onolicious local grinds you’re yearning for, please, look no further than Sekiya’s Restaurant & Delicatessen, a legendary Kaimuki favorite that has been serving up flavorful eats for the past 75 years.

And since we’re boasting about bentos, Sekiya’s delicatessen allows you to personalize bentos to your liking — with Chow Fun Noodles, Teri Beef, Nitsuke Butterfish and more. However, if there’s simply just too many choices, Sekiya’s has made the grueling task of picking out the perfect bento rather easy. Enter Sekiya’s Regular Bento ($7.25) comprised of fried noodles, shoyu chicken, barbecue meat, hot dog, musubi, norimaki, namasu and tsukemono.

“We’ve had this bento on the menu for a while and it’s always been a favorite,” says owner Joy Morihara. “These bento selections are pretty popular with everyone.”

And any trip to Sekiya’s is not complete without placing an order of the eatery’s famous Saimin or Fried Saimin, and an Orange Freeze to sip on.

Sekiya’s is all about offering a taste of “old Hawaii” for generations to come — this is as ono as it gets! The delicatessen is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and service for full-course meals gets under way at 9 a.m.

Sekiya’s Restaurant & Delicatessen
2746 Kaimuki Ave.
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Fukuya Deli & Catering

  • Fukuya offers an assortment of sushi selections for your bento.
  • Customers can personalize their own meals at Fukuya.
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Nothing tempts my appetite more than good, old-fashioned local Japanese favorites, and here at Fukuya Deli & Catering, it’s evident that this family business is on a roll — and yes, that means serving up tasty goodies that go way beyond your average sushi roll!

Jihei and Tsuya Takayama opened the doors to Fukuya’s original establishment on South King Street in 1939, and nowadays you’ll find Arrison Iwahira, Fukuya president and great-grandson of the original founders, running the show that has been gaining applause from a loyal following of local Fukuya fanatics.

“A lot of our customers will come in at 6 a.m. for the best selections. They love the fact that they can create their own bento and pick up a quick breakfast or lunch, and even pick up bentos to go if their kids have field trips that day,” Iwahira explains.

It’s an early start for Fukuya’s kitchen staff, as they usually arrive at 4 a.m. to prepare a plethora of yummy favorites.

“Our best-sellers are Miso Butterfish, Nori Chicken, Nishime, Shrimp Tempura, Fried Chicken, Chow Fun, Hot Dog Roll and, of course, our musubis and sushi,” Iwahira says. “People will usually choose close to six items to make up their bento, and the average cost is $7.50 (everything is sold a la carte).”

Keep in mind, Fukuya is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, so venture on in and fill up on an assortment of delectable items. Devour everything that your appetite fancies, and know that you’ll always be able to come back for more!

Fukuya Deli & Catering
2710 S. King St.
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