Ono Hawaiian Foods is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. As the saying goes, if the termites stopped holding hands, the building would collapse. Nevertheless, it’s a landmark, the best place to eat a basic Hawaiian luau without paying Waikiki prices. We waited in line outside the restaurant and were seated in fifteen minutes.
I ordered the kalua pig plate, while my companions ordered the laulau plate and salt meat luau. Everything was very fresh, except for the poi, which can be ordered fresh or day-old. I prefer the latter, which is slightly sour, and is similar to my preference for day-old sourdough. The rest of the food had a cleaner taste than the fare one can purchase at the supermarkets and warehouse stores. (I don’t mean to disparage the latter, which is adequate and cost-efficient for large gatherings.)
Two foursomes of young Japanese tourists were studying the English menu intently until the owner eased their anxiety by placing a Japanese menu in front of them. When their dishes came, they brought out their cameras and clicked away. The back and side walls were covered with photos of the celebrities who had dined there over the years. I brought out my camera and snapped pictures of the pictures.
The line outside the restaurant had grown longer, although it was after seven o’clock, past the standard dinner time in Hawaii. The locals know where to go for “ono” (delicious) food. © 2006 Stephen Yuen