Honolulu >Food & Dining > Ono Hawaiian Foods
Hawaiian Foods. Great family restaurant. Great food. We always make it a point to eat lunch there when we visit. Clayton and his wife are really great people.
Our 2nd Stop. Good luck parking at this place. If you cannot find a curbside parking spot (there's only about 3 ) in front of the restaurant, you will be forced to park down the street and around the small blocks of Honolulu while traffic breezes by at a fast pace as you try to parallel park. However, for some, parking is a minimal concern as they flock to try Ono's authentic Hawaiian food. Their food here was good, but not as good as Helena's. Plus, their prices here were alot higher than Helena's. Their beef was cooked dry like jerky; so it was very salty. Their salmon salsa was good and they gave us alot of extra haupia--which we loved.
We found out about Ono's from the Anthony Bourdain TV program, "No Reservations" and went there last week with "great expectations". The place does have lots of character, and since we went early (11:45 a.m. or so) did not have to wait. The service was very pleasant and professional, and the ambience was "local" and colorful. Unfortunately the luau style food we had was just "O.K."
I have only eaten traditional luau style cooking once or twice before, so I am no expert. And perhaps it is the style of cooking that I don't much care for, and perhaps Ono's is truly the best at traditional luau cuisine. My wife and I shared 2 dishes, 1 pork and the other chicken. They were both good, but did not merit the rave reviews I have read, and the attention lavished on the place by Anthony Bourdain. Ono's does not accept reservations and the "legend" has it that once they run out of food, that's it for the day.
One disadvantage of the place is that it is small- with a seating capacity of about 25; so if you get there during the lunch crush (and it is a very popular restaurant), you end upwaiting outside on a bench. An advantage is that it is within walking distance from downtown Waikiki (about 25 minutes from the east end of the beach). Another advantage is that, by Waikiki standards Ono's is affordable- about $30 for the 2 of us, including tax & tip.
One reason you cannot do too much damage as far as the bill is concerned is that Ono's does not serve alchohol. I get the impression that either Ono's was outstanding sometime ago, and has let standards slip in the glare of all the publicity and praise; or that it was never all that great in the first place, but people (being lemmings following "the crowd" and, or simply not wishing to offend) just go, eat there and say what's expected of them: "The best Hawaiian food I've ever had." By all means go and see for yourself. Maybe I am just too picky.
one word: wow. This was my third trip to Hawaii and I was sure that I didn't like Hawaiian food. Then I stumbled into Ono's. The food was incredible. The waitress took time to help us order and showed us how to eat. I got the kahlua pork and he got the laulau chicken plate. Everything was delicious and flavorful. The pork was deliciously moist, tender and salty. The chicken laulau was awesome, even the taro leaves surrounding it tasted good. The pipikaula (beef jerky) was delicious. The prices were reasonable. They have a website, too. It's walking distance from waikiki. They will even tell you how fresh the poi is if you ask. The rice wasn't very good (which is unusual in HNL from what I hear) but oh well, everything else more than made up for it.
Best Hawaiian Food in town.
Ono Hawaiian foods is a local secret that's become popular with vistors to Hawaii, as evidenced by the pictures of NFL players on the walls, who frequent this little "hole-in-the-wall" when they come to Oahu for the ProBowl. Ono's has the best hawaiian food in town. The biggest LauLau that I've ever seen along with great luau, kalua pig, chicken long rice, and daily specials. Portions are also very generous, and I don't know if I've ever seen someone finish one of the combo plates (laulau and kalua pig, with rice/poi, pipikaula, lomi salmon, and haupia).
This is a family business, and the staff treat you like one of their own, when you come in.
Ono's isn't a place for great ambiance. It's small and you have to arrive early for lunch because the line gets pretty long...but if you want great food and service, this is the spot.
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