The Debut of Marination ma kai

What have we been most anxious for all summer (other than our trip to Italy)?  The highly anticipated debut of the newest Marination outpost in our backyard in West Seattle-- ma kai, which means along, near or beside the sea in Hawaiian.  

The new location, ma kai is aptly named, as it sits where the former Alki Fish and Chips was located at Alki's Seacrest Boathouse (owned by Seattle Parks and Rec) right on the edge of Puget Sound with a killer view of the Seattle skyline.

Marination is co-owned by Kamala Saxton and Roz Edison.  Their Big Blue food truck shot to national fame when their Korean spicy pork taco won the Good Morning America national food truck contest in 2009.  We've been big fans for a long time as both of us love their Hawaiian-Korean fusion food.  It gives us both that everyday aloha feeling.  Ro even featured their food at her big Flirty Thirty birthday bash this past January.

So it shouldn't be any surprise that the first place we chose to eat lunch upon returning from our Italian adventure was, you guessed it, ma kai and it did not disappoint.  Not only did the new place keep some of the Marination classics such as SPAM and kalua sliders and kalbi beef tacos , but it added more fish dishes (appropriate considering the waterside location), a full bar, breakfast items and the kicker-- boozy shaved ice featuring Husky Deli Ice-Cream (a local West Seattle favorite).  This place is going to be packed in the summertime no doubt!  You heard it here first.
New patio/deck with an incredible view!
Spicy Kimchi fried rice w/ fried egg on top
Mac salad and SPAM slider

After we staked out where we would be moving in with our sleeping bags to sleep permanently on the beautiful deck with the most incredible view, we couldn't help but say to each other this was going to be our new hang-out (FloJo is determined to become the Foursquare mayor).  We nestled into a table and hunkered down to conquer our tray of food. FloJo had her usual spicy kimchi fried rice with a fried egg on top and her favorite the Marination classic SPAM slider with a side of mac salad (take note islanders the SPAM is a nice addition to traditional mac salad).  A funny footnote on the menu, ma kai boasts making their own Portuguese sausage in-house, but they clearly point out the SPAM still comes from Minnesota.  Which begs the question is it really Portuguese sausage if it's made in Seattle?  

Ro went new school trying the cod fish and chips.  She was able to convince the server to let her try both of the new tartar sauces miso and kimchi.  Kimchi is "the bomb" and should be your pick if they won't let you try both.  The fish was very delicious, but the chips (although props for the hand-cut variety) were soggy and not very good.  She's really excited to try the fish tacos, but they were not available yet (still in soft launch during our first visit).  There are still a few coming soon items in addition to the fish tacos this includes kimchi sausage and eggs  and pork katsu sandwiches.
Roz (co-owner) and Robyn (Cicerone)

Marination brown session ale

The new location has a full bar  (where they booze up the shaved ice) and Washington State's first female Cicerone, Robyn Schumacher.  Being a Cicerone is a really grueling, grind it out kind of gig.  She's the chief beer taster & has to keep current on what's hot out in the marketplace.  Research includes visiting stores, breweries and local pubs. Tough job right?  

Ma kai features a few Hawaiian beers in bottle form.  On tap they now have their own namesake brown ale brewed by White Center's Big Al Brewing.  They also have a rotating people's tap that is decided upon by you guessed it, the people.  If you'd like to register to vote submit your vote on the ma kai blog.  For now, the people have chosen Georgetown Brewing's Lucille IPA.  Our vote for a future people's choice is  Hawai'i Nui Brewing's Sunset Amber Ale brewed in Hilo on the Big Island (Ro's homeland).  It's awesome beer we came across while visiting Lanai, but not sure if they distribute to the mainland...yet.  

There is also wine and creative island inspired cocktails.  We overheard a customer saying that Robyn makes up the best bloody mary he's ever tasted.  Might be worth doing your own research to see if that claim can be confirmed.

Portuguese $3.25 and SPAM musubi $2.50 with Hawaiian Sun

We followed our lunch visit two days later to try the new breakfast menu.  We struggled to decide what to order from the interesting choices that include: breakfast sliders, sunrise burrito, biscuits & Portuguese sausage and gravy, SPAM or Portuguese sausage musubi, aloha granola and yogurt, mini banana macadamia nut loaf, coconut muffins or kalua 'n' cabbage manapua and Hawaiian classic loco moco.

Loco Moco $8.50
Sunrise Burrito $6.50

We started with both varieties of musubi and coffee.  Surprisingly out of the two we both liked the SPAM the most.  The Sumatra coffee was from Caffe Vita (we love their organic and fair trade practices).  Ro really liked the flavor, but it was a little too bold for FloJo (split decision).  Ro went with the sunrise burrito that was made with Portuguese sausage, eggs, potatoes and kimchi to wake you up.  FloJo was excited to try their version of the loco moco (you have to be a little loco to want a burger for breakfast).  It was rice covered in kalua pork gravy with a burger and two fried eggs on top (very heart friendly huh)?  The first bite of gravy and rice was overly salty (again, not helping the ole ticker).  The rest of the ingredients were fine on their own, but the gravy seemed to have too much sodium.

Scuba divers working up an appetite in Puget Sound
There were quite a few people taking advantage of the full bar at 10 a.m.  There was a class of scuba divers that came in after their lesson and had a well deserved breakfast beer.  We also saw a dog break free from his leash (he was previously tied up outside) and he made a mad dash into the restaurant in search of either his people or a musubi (we can't be sure which it was).  Breakfast is served until 2 p.m. on the weekends so mosey in when you get up.  The loco moco has hangover remedy written all over it.

The prices are a bit high (a musubi in Hawaii is generally no more than $2).  Our lunch and breakfast were both right around $30.  Not outrageous, but also not cheap food either.  We figure if you were to eat just down the street at Salty's you would spend at least double for the same view.  That's one way to justify paying a little more to dine here. Oh, and we love that ma kai is incorporating local partners like Husky Deli, Big Al Brewing and Caffe Vita.

The new hours for ma kai are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. till "late" on weekends.  Since ma kai is in the same place where the water taxi docks, the new morning hours and breakfast items should be perfect for morning commuters to grab a bite on their way to work.  We also think it would be a perfect place to tailgate prior to a Seahawk or Sounders game.  Grab some grub and beer at ma kai, catch the water taxi to the game.  Maybe even grab another beer on the return trip to celebrate the win!  

Our other thought is this would be an awesome wedding reception site (can't beat the view) and Marination does their own catering.  SPAM I do!  Here's the e-mail address to use if you decide to book your post Ref 74 wedding:

Welcome to the hood ma kai we are sure we will be best friends.

Live life with aloha, flavor and fun!

Marination Ma Kai on Urbanspoon


  1. Nice post! Jake and I toured the Hawaii Nui brewery (Mehana) in Hilo back in '09 and we had to bring some beer back in our luggage since their beer wasn't being distributed in the mainland yet... but not sure if that's still the case!

  2. I don't think they distribute to the mainland. We tried their beer when we were on Lanai back in May/June. So ono!

  3. I'm going to start a Twitter campaign to bring Hawaii Nui to the mainland!


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