Are you gonna go Mamaya way?

Columns Veg'n Out

January 4, 2015

Story By: Andy Beth Miller | Photos by: Nathalie Walker

Being the youngest of three siblings growing up, I learned at an early age that compromise and sharing were edicts, not options. I also was taught the tried-and-true lesson of the last-born — that from hand-me-down clothing to twice-used toys, when it came to choices, “first dibs” was a foreign language.

Don’t get me wrong, having two older sisters is a priceless gift that I wouldn’t trade for the world, and being the baby was not without its benefits and “spoils” (pun intended). Yet some days, particularly those when I’d been carted around in the back of our family suburban — from the eldest sister’s soccer game to the middle’s music lesson — this ornery little lion would roar: “I just want one day to have things my way!”

Apparently, I am not alone in this desire. Another who has realized the high demand for individuality is Dan Warabeya, manager of Mamaya restaurant. At this Japanese eatery, patrons have the opportunity to personalize their bentos with fresh choices from the restaurant’s diverse hot and cold bars, as well as choosing from a myriad of a la carte options.

At the hot and cold bar, a smorgasbord of do-it-yourself options, simply choose the selection that most catches your eye, and Mamaya will weigh it by the pound for your dining pleasure.

“We create a new dining option every month, and we always keep vegetarians in mind,” explains manager Dan Kobayashi. “We focus on having 2 or 3 options on the hot bar, as well as the majority of the cold bar outfitted with veggie-friendly offerings.”

Konbu Musubi ($1.30) and Crunchy Ume ($1.30) are both excellent a la carte options for those customers seeking a smaller snack or a scrumptious accompaniment to a larger meal. These just-right-bites practically beg to be eaten.

Two other delicious selections are found at the mix n’ match hot bar, Eggplant with Teriyaki sauce ($7.75 per pound) and Tofu Steak with Vegetable Glaze ($7.75 per pound).

Accommodating and affordable, this eatery is a perfect choice for even the pickiest eater, because when it comes to — let’s face it — just about everything, we all want it our way, every day. And today, after a wonderful meal, a childhood dream truly has been realized; I had it all Mamaya way.


Pearl Kai Shopping Center
98-199 Kamehameha Hwy., Aiea
Daily, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

Aiea, HI 96701

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