As a kid, when we’d want to get a good bento, we’d head over to Shirokiya’s, which used to be in the Queen Ka`ahumanu Center. It was awesome. When I was in kindergarten I became totally obsessed with Hello Kitty paraphernalia and shrimp tempura. Shirokiya’s was the one place you could go to get both.
A few years ago, Shirokiya’s closed and Maui was left to scavenge Asian bentos and My Little Star pen sets from other places. Not that you can’t find good bentos and Hello Kitty other places on Maui. C’mon, it’s Maui. We’re like 60-something percent Asian dominated here. Okay, technically it’s like 30 percent, but I don’t think they took Kahului and Wailuku into consideration when they polled. So like 60 percent… at least downtown.
This major cultural problem that was caused by Shirokiya’s packing up and closing was solved when TJ’s Warehouse Outlet and Bento and Catering opened in the Maui Chemical building in Wailuku. Yes, the Maui Chemical building. In the Maui Chemical building you can buy massive amounts of cleaner, paper products, office supplies and (surprise!) Hello Kitty and bentos.
Yippee! Wait, I’m not five anymore.
TJ’s Warehouse has bento specials Monday through Friday. On Mondays you’ll find cold udon, chicken katsu donbori and oyaku donbori. Tuesdays are hamburger steak, yakisoba combos and won ton days. Wednesdays are all about the chicken hekka, pork tofu and somen salad, while Thursday rocks the Hawaiian plate, beef stew and teriyaki meatball. Fridays are my personal favorite: tempura and butterfish bento, Korean chicken and tofu patties. Greasy, delicious and wickedly satisfying.
On any given day you’ll find the usual local favorites like yakitori chicken, kalbi short ribs, maki and cone sushi, musubi, corned beef patties, mochiko chicken, chow fun, shrimp tempura (Hooray!), mac salad, teriyaki hot-dogs and more.
This ain’t no health food store—weight watchers can just stay far, far away. This is dining for the hungry, the non-calorie counter, the flavor lover. This is local food at its finest.
There is an outside area where you can sit and eat your lunch, though it seems most people order their food and then dash back to work. TJ’s Warehouse also does a lot of catering—people can order food by the half or full pan. They also offer a “Five Course Menu” for as little as 10 people.
Then there’s their great supply of Asian dry goods—stuff that may be hard to find in the regular grocery store, if you’re one of those people that likes to suffer the pain of actually preparing a meal yourself. And they have a huge supply of Sanrio (a.k.a. Hello Kitty) stuff. Backpacks, lunch pails, pens, staplers, you name it, they have it.
Listen close, ladies: if you’re over 12, you should really leave this stuff for the kids. Go ahead and buy it, but don’t hoard it for yourself. Give it to your niece, daughter, the neighbor kid—whoever, but for the love of God, let go of Hello Kitty already.
Yeah, that means you should take the HELLO KITTY IS MY BFF frame off your license plate. Really, she’ll understand. Hello Kitty has new friends now. Oh, and while you’re at it, evict the stuffed animals from your bed and go to TJ’s Warehouse Bento and Catering and buy some lunch for your husband. He deserves it. MTW