The Choice Is Yours

Columns Ono, You Know

April 2, 2017

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO


Whether shopping online with the click of a button or communicating with friends and family via swiftly delivered text messages, contemporary culture is all about having anything and everything at our fingertips — and in the blink of an eye. While some folks are quick to criticize the desire for instant gratification these days, I take the stance that in the realm of dining, at least, this is not a bad piece of progress.

No longer are the days when the only way to get a quick bite was to roll up to the drive-through window of a major fast-food chain to order an indisputably unhealthy meal. Luckily, over the past decade the food industry has seen a notable increase in eateries and fast-food establishments that seek to provide high-quality cuisine in a jiffy — and they don’t break the bank, either.

Even better, the choices are seemingly endless when it comes to customizing the perfect meal on the go. I’ve narrowed it down to a few divine options right here that, thankfully, are sure to instantly gratify:


GRYLT is the perfect example of what the pinnacle of “speed dining” looks like today: Revel in a gourmet meal free of unnecessary additives and full of fresh, local ingredients — and do so in minutes or less.

GRYLT's Surf & Turf Platter ($16)

GRYLT’s Surf & Turf Platter ($16)

It’s so easy to be good to your body when it tastes as delicious as GRYLT’s Surf & Turf Platter ($16), which offers a choice of two proteins ranging from chicken or tofu to shrimp or salmon, along with starch and vegetable goodies. Corporate chef Jose Arias introduced Ono, You Know to this marvelous take-out option, prepared with the daily catch of sustainable line-caught ahi and some juicy Midwest Angus tri-tip steak. The surf and turf selections are seasoned simply with Hawaiian sea salt and pepper to enhance their naturally delicious flavors. You can also dip them into homemade sauces, however, such as a sweet and smoky roasted garlic chili, or teriyaki-inspired Asian Fusion.

In line with GRYLT’s clean and fresh philosophy toward food, the Yukon gold mashed potatoes on the side “don’t have any dairy or butter,” says Arias. “We use garlic, salt, pepper — that’s it. It’s really good that way because it has good flavor inherently, so you don’t need much more.”

As for the side salad, “This plate has our new seasonal salad, which is a local arugula mix with local baby romaine, pickled cranberries, toasted walnuts and apple-cider vinaigrette,” he continues.

In addition to grabbing a quick bite at GRYLT’s Ala Moana Center, Kahala Mall and Kailua Shopping Center locations, you can take advantage of the company’s custom meal-plan service, Built By GRYLT, which makes healthy eating throughout the week a breeze. Email built@grylt.com for inquiries, and Arias notes that the website and new specials for the service are in the works.


Ala Moana Center,
Makai Market Food Court
1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu
(and in Kahala and Kailua)

Honolulu, HI 96814


During a recent conversation with Aja Sushi & Bento general manager Lauren Yoo, she pointed out that the abundance of choices consumers have today across the retail market is something she successfully applies to her family’s takeout-eatery concept.

“We customize our clothing, shoes, gadgets, etc.,” she explains, “so we realized early on the value of letting our customers personalize their own meal.”

An array of AjaPacs ($11.99 each) from Aja Sushi & Bento PHOTO COURTESY OF AJA>

An array of AjaPacs ($11.99 each) from Aja Sushi & Bento PHOTO COURTESY OF AJA>

Giving diners the freedom to choose from an array of local favorites has paid off at the popular hot spot — located in Ala Moana Center’s Makai Market Food Court — as Aja is no stranger to long lines of customers eager to pick and choose their own bentos and plates of varying sizes.

For a quick meal that’s still easy to personalize, go for a best-selling AjaPac ($11.99), which offers mandoo and signature garlic chicken alongside your choice of an additional protein. The only hard part will be deciding whether to munch on salmon, meat jun, shrimp tempura or saba, but each one is a winning selection.

And if you’re having one of those days where you still want something fresh, but don’t want to have to do the choosing, go with one of the ready-made bentos situated on Aja’s takeout counter, where you’ll find an array of choices large and small to fit any appetite. As an added plus, many of Aja’s selections come with a plethora of fresh vegetables.

Best of all, you can taste the love that goes into Aja’s menu of island-style bites, which emphasize Korean flavors. The eatery’s famous garlic chicken, for example, is a long-standing family recipe, according to Yoo, while the rest of the menu is designed to emulate a local-style potluck filled with everyone’s favorite dishes.

Aja Sushi & Bento

Ala Moana Center,
Makai Market Food Court
(and two other locations)
1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu

Honolulu, HI 96814

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best