Did this: Taste of Marukai 2012

About 1,000 people filled the aisles of Marukai’s Dillingham store for the seventh annual “Taste of Marukai,” the most anticipated night of the year for those in the know about the warehouse outlet’s events. Dozens of food and drink stations were scattered throughout the store, creating a quirky maze of Japanese culinary delights, including ramen, tempura, sushi, Alaskan king crab, and more.

There’s always live entertainment, both local and Japanese, and door prizes galore throughout the night to keep everyone busy when they take a break from eating. There’s always a featured high-end restaurant — this year, it was Roy’s. There’s always an abundance of sake to sample and purchase; this time, sake enthusiasts enjoyed more than 50 kinds, from about $20 to $103 per bottle. And since this is such a huge event, there’s always going to be people you know. Think of it as one of the best cocktail parties in town, and start circulating.

Attendees paid $95 per ticket ($85 presage) to get in, not just to eat but to help a good cause: Part of the night’s proceeds go to the Japanese Cultural Center, the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce, Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Hawaii United Okinawa Association.

If you missed it, here’s a very small sample of our evening. Better mark your calendars for next year.

Taste of Marukai

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Richard Matsu, Marukai’s Executive Vice President, with the 2012 Cherry Blossom Queen and court.

—Photo by Diane Seo