Mama’s Best is Cooked Up at Mamaya

Ali Carte Columns

August 4, 2013

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

For nearly five years, the Japanese bentos at Mamaya’s booth within Shirokiya’s food court have come to be known as some of the best bentos patrons can get their chopsticks on. The unrivaled freshness and quality of ingredients have helped make these local staples taste as though you’re eating a home-cooked meal in the speedy convenience of a grab-and-go bento box.

Mamaya’s growing popularity has lead it to open a location all to itself at Aiea’s Pearl Kai Shopping Center, which debuted in December of last year. Equipped with an even wider selection of bentos and other items that introduce a broad range of local flavors, the new locale dishes out even more ways to feel at home.

“The name Mamaya, it’s a Japanese name, it means ‘mother’s house,'” says retail manager Dan Kobayashi. “You know your mother’s cooking? Remember that taste?

That’s where the name traditionally came from, and with every item we make, we want to make it feel like home.”

In addition to divine bentos, the eatery features a Deli Mix and Match section ($7.75 per pound; available 10 a.m.-2 p.m. daily) for those who would like to customize their meal.

“Basically it’s a build your own bento section,” says Kobayashi, noting about 20 delectable items that are switched up daily and include hot and cold bento items, salads, starches and sides. “We have different containers, from big bento boxes to small little containers — depending on how much you want to eat.”

Deli favorites include butterfish tempura, roast pork, tofu steak, mochiko chicken, ahi belly with ginger sauce, pumpkin tempura and more. Nishime, homemade potato salad and a choice of white or multigrain rice are just some of the perfect accompaniments.

The Pearl Kai location also draws in patrons with its variety of made-to-order poke bowls. Kobayashi suggests going all out with Ma-maya Special Poke Bowl ($8.25), complete with a choice of two styles of poke, rice and marinated seaweed or kimchee on the side.

In each bowl, choose from spicy ahi, oyster ahi (made which oyster sauce) or shoyu ahi poke. “The poke is made fresh every morning; we’re not using anything from the night before,” says Kobayashi. Diners may also choose from white rice or the restaurant’s signature multigrain variety, which boasts 14 healthy grains of rice.

Poke Bowls ($7.50) with just one choice of poke and rice or half-sized Mini Poke Bowls ($5.25) are waiting to be devoured as well.

When it comes to wonderfully savory, yet utterly convenient meals, Mamaya’s homemade grinds are the way to go. And when you visit the Aiea shop in September, you will be offered a free cup of comforting miso soup with every purchase of more than $7.


Pearl Kai Shopping Center
98-199 Kamehameha Hwy., Aiea
Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-7:30 pm.
Sunday, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Made-to-order bentos served from 8 to 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to closing. Deli is available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Aiea, HI 96701

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best