More Than Just Great Bentos

Digest On the Menu

March 8, 2015

Story By: Lindsey Appleton | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

With two establishments in Ala Moana and Pearl Kai, Mama-ya has made a name for itself with its affordable bentos and lunches. Now Downtown Honolulu also can enjoy the flavors of Mama-ya at its newest location on Bishop Street. Officially open March 16, Mama-ya is bringing its trademark dishes to the next level of convenient dining.

“Mama-ya is known for its ready-made bentos, but at the Bishop Street location we are stepping it up a notch,” says store manager Dan Kobayashi. “Everything will be made to order and served plate lunch-style. Since we’re not restraining the food to fit a bento box, there will be larger portions.”

Many of the same beloved Mama-ya favorites will be served at the new eatery, with the addition of two new categories: pasta and salad. Twirl up a forkful of Kobayashi’s favorite selection: Garlic Shrimp Pasta ($7.95). The shrimp is blanched, fried and seasoned with a secret 12-spice combination. The large, garlicky shrimp is served on a bed of pasta, which is also seasoned with an additional blend of spices.

For a lighter lunch, enjoy Oriental Salmon Salad ($7.50). Large, pink chunks of salmon are paired with carrots, red cabbage, Mandarin oranges, tomatoes and fried wonton. This colorful combination of fresh ingredients is served atop a mixed green salad and finished with Mama-ya’s original ginger dressing. The crisp greens complement the juicy oranges, salty capers, and sweet and tangy dressing.

“We added the new pasta and salad categories to offer our customers more options beyond what we serve at our other Mama-ya locations,” explains Kobayashi. “The recipes were created by the management and tested, retested, and tested again to make sure that they were perfect.”

Along with the new menu options, Mama-ya boasts a large and delicious menu that patrons know and love. Indulge in the ever-popular Miso Butterfish ($8.50), which is marinated in Mama-ya’s miso mixture for two days, so the light butterfish absorbs all of the salty and savory flavors. Treat yourself to a half-pound of fresh, local Spicy ahi Poke ($7.50). Like all of Mama-ya’s plate lunches, it is served with mixed greens and a choice of mac or potato salad, white or 12-grain rice.

For a protein-packed meal, try Chicken Oyako Donburi ($6.50). Bite-sized morsels of chicken are cooked and then bound omelet style with eggs, carrot, onion, and mushroom mixture. Oyako, meaning “mother and son,” is indicative of the use of the chicken (mother) and the egg (son). Cooked with a sweet, soy-based sauce, and garnished with green onion and nori, Chicken Oyako is both sweet and salty, hearty and light.

“Mama means, of course, ‘mother,’ and ya means ‘house,'” explains Kobayashi. “Mama-ya’s mission is to make food that is as close to your mama’s home-style cooking as possible. No where else can you beat our prices, amount of food and flavors.”

Celebrate Mama-ya’s new location on Bishop Street with 30 percent off from March 16 to 20.


725 Bishop St., Honolulu (additional locations)
Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; closed weekends

Honolulu, HI 96813

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best