If you guys ever come to Hawai‘i/ O‘ahu, you should make sure to stop by a Marukai! If you're already familiar with Marukai (as there are some in California) you won't be disappointed by our Hawai‘i Marukai :D. There are two flavors of Marukai here in Hawai‘i and several locations on O‘ahu: one flavor is a full grocery store (Marukai Wholesale Mart) while the other is strictly for household goods (all aptly named Zakka Avenue).
Marukai Wholesale marts: one on Nimitz Highway, near the airport and one on ‘Auahi Street by the Ward shopping Center in Kaka‘ako (near to Ala Moana Shopping Center). In order to go to both the Nimitz location and ‘Auahi Street location you must be a member, but you can easily and economically purchase a day pass for around $1 (I think) and a yearly pass for $15. These stores are most definitely your one stop shop for Asian (Korean, Chinese, and Filipino... but mostly Japanese!) groceries and hard to find items (for example, good sake, bento fixings, fruits and vegetables imported specially from Japan, Japanese sauces and mixes, special cuts of meats especially for Japanese cooking.... and the list goes on!). It is definitely worth buying a one day pass just to check out what's inside one of these grocery stores... there's so much to look at! And even if you want to pass on some of the more "exotic" Japanese items, you can always pick up a great bento lunchbox! Both Marukai carry a wide selection of delectable foods, such as fresh ahi and shrimp tempura sushi; teriyaki, karaage and mochiko chicken bentos; saba fish and unagi bentos, oyako and donburi rice bowls, takoyaki (sometimes) and more... am I making you hungry yet? Haha, that's the point! Here's what I love... Okonomiyaki (Hiroshima style), which has been described as a Japanese pizza for its widespread availability and status as a relatively cheap eat in Japan. Basically okonomiyaki is yakisoba noodles, cabbage and bacon under a thin, crepe-like pancake, with an egg and okonomi sauce.... Marukai's okonomiyaki is really good and pretty economical at $5.99!
However, what I love most about Marukai is Zakka Avenue; these stores sell home goods. While there is a Zakka Avenue within the Nimitz grocery store location (meaning you need to pay a membership to get into it) , there are also free-standing Zakka Avenue stores: one is next to the ‘Auahi Street location and the other is in Windward Mall in Kāne‘ohe. Both of these locations are free to go to, and carry a wide range of really fun things, such as bento making supplies (see how highly bento rate on my list?) cute dishes, kawaii home and office supplies, stationary, Japanese candy and snacks imported from Japan, toys, and other good things. Although everything used to be under 99¢, now mostly everything is $1.49 and up (dang economy!) Despite the price increase, I've gotten some really great kawaii items from Marukai, including stickers and notepads! Anyway, I always visit Marukai, even if I don't plan to buy things... it's one of those stores that's really great for browsing! That's how I know it'd be great for you to visit :D
Japanese have a penchant for making things funny/kawaii: these are toilet papers wrapped to look like dolls... I laughed out loud when I saw these! And yes, it was $6.79 for a toilet paper doll. Somebody on etsy should get on that.
Yummy snacks and candy...nobody does strawberry flavored chocolate like the Japanese!