by Megan Patrick
Hawaiian Sunset on Oahu
Well, I promised you Boise’s newest and best eats and that’s exactly what I’ve found for you, folks! Ono Café, located at 2170 Broadway Ave., is now open for its soft-opening and will have its Grand Opening Jan.11th- 13th, 2008. Ono Café is like nothing the Treasure Valley has ever seen before with its Hawaiian fusion. Owner and Chef of Kanak Attack Catering, Michael Mohica, found himself in such high demand that he had to open a restaurant to satisfy his customer’s needs. And the high demand is for good reason, because not only is Ono Cafe’s food delicious (which is what Ono means in Hawaiian,) it’s literally bringing a whole new world’s worth of flavor and pizzazz to Treasure Valley patrons’ growing palates.
At Ono Café you can indulge with all your senses. You walk in the door and the first things you experience are the tantalizing smells of ginger and garlic wafting from the kitchen. Inside the decor of the restaurant is appropriate to the restaurant’s Hawaiian Fusion theme. The walls are decorated in pictures of Hawaiian cultural traditions; my favorite- the casting of the fishing nets found in the main dinning room. The tables and chairs are simplistic, which brings out the Japanese style in the fusion with clean black lines with slight curves that remind you of reading Japanese writing. There is also a smaller room right next to the main dinning room that’s painted bright red and reminds me immediately of Chinese culture. This room has more significance than meets the eye, the tables are strung together with high seating so that you sit right next to your neighbor. In Hawaiian culture (and many others as well) it’s custom for families and friends to eat together and to share the fruits of their labor. Feel free to sit next to someone you haven’t even met and if the mood strikes you, share your Pupus with your new friends. Have a large party? They’ve got you covered! There is a banquet room attached to the restaurant where you can hold your events from a business lunch to a wedding reception. To top off your newly found good vibrations, Ono Café will buzz your little ears right off with its collection of Hawaiian music that resounds throughout the restaurant.
Now that your stomach is good and ready for some of Ono Cafe’s signature dishes step inside a world of taste and texture like you have never experience before. From crunchy house made wonton croutons to the smoothness of their macaroni salad, Ono Café offers textures that will accommodate everyone. One of my favorites at lunch is Ono Cafe’s Asian Soba Noodle Salad. This towering salad is made up of chilled Soba noodles that are tossed in a Soy Ginger Vinaigrette with toasted cashews, crisp peppers, refreshing celery, julienne carrots, bean sprouts, and cool mandarin oranges, and it’s all topped off with perfectly crunchy rice noodles. Looking for a sandwich instead? Ono’s has you covered there too! Infact, Ono Café has a large variety of sandwiches from the Waimea Bay which is a refreshing shrimp salad sandwich with bright flavors and tons of exciting textures to the Velzyland which is a cold poached chicken sandwich with a unique and mouth-watering sauce that will leave you begging for more. However, if it’s cold outside and you are looking for something to warm you up, try one of Ono’s many burgers or hot sandwiches. All of Ono Cafe’s burgers are made with Idaho Kobe beef and topped with Maui onions and Kauai tomatoes. The hot sandwiches aren’t too shabby either, if you ask me. Whether you are looking for a new and improved fish sandwich with Mahi Mahi and a citrus chili aioli, or a pulled pork sandwich with a pineapple bourbon barbeque sauce, there is a whole spectrum of sandwiches which are all worth your tastebuds’ time. If you are looking for something without the bread, try one of Ono’s hot entrees. They are definitely a huge bang for your buck and if you don’t feel the need to eat one by yourself (because it’s so big) you could likely split one plate lunch between yourself and a friend. And, if you are feeling advantageous, go for the gold and challenge yourself to Da Kanak Attack. This baby is only $11 and comes with Mahi Mahi fish, Kalua Pig, and a ginormous Teriyaki chicken thigh, as well as two sides. I seriously doubt some of you could finish it by yourself- even if you really tried. As if all this food wasn’t enough to fill your hungry belly, each lunch item comes with a side or two, and the possibilities are almost endless. Some of my favs are the Gnarly Fries which are Idaho spuds and Yam fries mixed together and cooked to a crisp perfection, Coconut Rice, and the Macaroni Salad. While Macaroni Salad may seem somewhat odd to you, it’s actually a staple in Hawaiian cafes and it’s unlike its main land counterpart. Unlike the main lands over dressed and disgustingly bland mac salad, Hawaii’s version consists of a smooth and slightly salty dressing with boiled eggs, carrots, and green onions. While this does seem like an unusual combination, it’s oh so delicious and something different from the usual. And if you didn’t think it could get any better, hold onto your britches because lunches at Ono Café range between $6 to $11 dollars. Those prices for such large portions for lunch are a steal in and of themselves, but to sweeten the deal the food is also oh-so-AMAZING!!!
Believe it or not, we’ve just covered lunch. Stop in for dinner at Ono Café and you’ll find a whole new menu with a completely different concept. Ono Café carries a whole menu of pupus for dinner, which are just like tapas or appetizers, only they are Hawaiian fusion instead. The menu consists of Pupus, a variety of sushi, and all sorts of Poke. Dinner prices run between $7 and $15 per item ordered, but are worth your money and they go a long way!
The idea is to come with a friend or two, or even the family, and order a couple different items. Share them with everyone and you have a whole meal. And like I said, if you are sitting in the family style room, feel free to share with your neighbors. There are tons of options and something for everyone, including vegetarians. Accompany your meal with Hawaiian Punch, a pop, lemon water, or an alcoholic beverage of your choice.
Some suggestions?! Like I wasn’t going to share. My favorite at Ono Café is definitely the Edamame Humus. This ingenious concoction is much like the original, but with a modern twist. There is of course the smokiness of the cumin which takes it straight back to ordinary humus, but with a soft green color from the edamame and a kick from Sriracha, this favorite of mine is totally modernized. Perhaps it’s the cool creaminess of this Edamame Humus mixed with the warm grilled pita bread, or the extra mound of fresh veggie dippers that it comes with that makes this my favorite, but whatever it is that’s got me hung up on this mouth-watering stuff, I recommend you go and try it immediately! Moving on- now that I’ve made myself hungry, if you are looking for something manly try the Korean Kalbi Chicken Wings with homemade blue cheese dressing. These little wings are packed with flavor and a nice kick that’s enough to tickle your tastebuds but not make you go crazy. These wings also have an amazing crunch without being dry that could drive a person wild, and you get a bunch for your buck. One last suggestion, try the Crab Rangoon. These precious stuffed wontons are definitely the best Crab Rangoon you are likely to find in the entire valley. The crispy wonton shells are filled with Rangoon mixture that brings an elegance to the common appetizer. Unlike Crab Rangoon you find at other restaurants or in your freezer section that are overly cream cheesy, these bites of heaven have the perfect balance or creaminess and crab. Usually, you can barely taste the crab, let alone feel it in the texture, but at Ono you can feel the tender crab in the filling and you can actually taste it! And to make your head fully explode, dunk your crab filled dippers in the accompanying spicy tangerine sauce. YUM!
So next time you find yourself hungry and are on your way out to get a bite to eat, steer clear the boring and unoriginal chain restaurant and do yourself a favor by heading over to Ono Café. You’ll love yourself for doing so and you will never forget the experience or the food. I bet you’ll even find yourself going back!