This New Food Truck Serves Authentic Japanese Okonomiyaki With a Local Twist

Kyoto-based eatery opens food trucks in Waikīkī.


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Photos: Maria Kanai

 

We don’t make it down to Waikīkī nearly enough, but when we do, we’re usually there for the food. Sure, parking can suck, and good luck navigating anywhere without having to push through a crowd, but the eateries can be worth it.

 

We recently went to check out Pau Hana Market, a recently opened hub for roving food trucks to call home, right on Beach Walk, just down the street from Hard Rock Café. This month, the Market welcomed Japanese food truck Maikoya with a grand opening event—there was live music, free samples and a cute geisha performance.

 

Maikoya hails from Kyoto (hence the geisha), owned by Japanese franchise NST Inc. There are actually two Maikoya spots in Pau Hana Market—one a truck serving plate lunches and the other a food stand, selling soft-serve ice cream.

 

According to the manager—he said he wasn’t allowed to share his name—Maikoya is originally a café from Kyoto that’s known for its soft serves. “Our matcha soft serves are very popular, and very thick and creamy,” he says.

 

Cups range from medium ($3.99) to large ($4.99), and there’s also a waffle-cone option ($4.99). We were disappointed that the soft serve itself is basic vanilla, which means your flavor options are limited to just the toppings. But it is a creamy treat, and, while there are matcha, chocolate, strawberry, coconut, honey and pineapple toppings, we recommend the hojicha. Hojicha is roasted tea leaves, and the roasting brings out a distinctive, toasty flavor that’s a little milder than the matcha, and goes well with the vanilla base. The two green tea Pocky sticks are also a nice touch. Kawaii!

 

okonomiyaki okonomiyaki

 

The lunch truck serves Japanese street food, with yakisoba, curries and okonomiyaki. We were excited to try the okonomiyaki, especially since Kapahulu’s Sho-chan closed down several years ago. Okonomiyaki is basically a savory Japanese pancake made with a batter of flour, yams, eggs and thinly sliced cabbage. “Okonomi” means “to your liking,” so the pancake then gets loaded up with just about any meats, vegetables and toppings that you’d like. At Maikoya, the okonomiyaki can be ordered with shrimp, pork, cheese, tartar sauce, noodles and more.

 

During the grand opening, we tried the cheese okonomiyaki ($12.99) and the signature Maikoyaki ($15.99). The batter texture is chewier and thicker than most, almost like mochi. The Maikoyaki was our preference of the two. It’s a Hawai‘i-style okonomiyaki, with the surprising combination of shrimp, tartar sauce and okonomiyaki sauce. If you want something more authentic, go for the simpler shrimp modanyaki ($14.99) or the pork okonomiyaki ($11.99). All dishes are made to order, so expect at least a 10-minute wait and watch them make the okonomiyaki on the teppanyaki griddle inside the truck.

 

We went back a week later to try several other items. Skip the shrimp curry ($14.99)—it’s skimpy on the shrimp—and go for the pork yakisoba ($9.99). This humble dish hits the spot, with thinly sliced pork, cabbage and tempura flakes mixed into thin noodles. This is authentic stuff, the kind you would eat in Japan during summer carnivals or camping trips.

 

Prices run high, par for the course in Waikīkī, but if you’re in the area, Maikoya is a good place to curb your okonomiyaki and yakisoba cravings. The manager says, “Our flavors on the menu are tailored to local tastes, and we hope that Hawai‘i eaters will enjoy the authentic cooking from Japan.”

 

Maikoya, Pau Hana Market, 234 Beach Walk, 286-8900

 

Join us for a starlight soirée celebrating the culinary stars of this year’s Hale ‘Aina Awards! Dine on dishes from 12 top restaurants while sipping on cocktails and enjoying amazing entertainment, all under the stars at the luxurious Royal Hawaiian Hotel. For more information, click here.

 

READ MORE STORIES BY MARIA KANAI

 

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