Ono’s Hawaiian Grill, the brick-and-mortar restaurant from the team behind Shreveport’s popular Ono’s Traditional Hawaiian Cuisine food truck, appears to be within weeks of opening their beautiful new restaurant at 4015 Fern Avenue. Ono’s founder Sione Maumalanga invited me to see how the space was coming along and taste a handful of dishes that will be going on the menu. Everything about this restaurant is impressive, from its seating capacity (I’d guess that the multi-room restaurant could seat 250-300 diners) to the menu items that I sampled.
For starters, this is an enormous restaurant. Upon arrival, guests enter a foyer with a host station the size of a hotel front desk. To the right, there’s a sprawling main dining room with an open pass to the kitchen. Straight ahead, there’s a beauty of a bar, including its own seating area and some dramatic lighting effects. There are 28 taps for beer, two frozen daiquiri machines, and a few televisions in the bar space. From the bar area, guests just have to round a corner to enter one of Shreveport’s largest dining patios. With Ono’s expected to debut around the time that spring finally arrives (“mid-March” is the projected grand opening time frame), this patio is bound to be the most popular spot in town – at least until July heat sends diners running for cover.
How’s the food? It’s excellent, as anyone who has dined with Ono’s Traditional Hawaiian Cuisine would anticipate. My personal favorite bites were the shoyu chicken, a long-marinated chicken and rice dish with lots of umami, and the saimin, which is Hawaii’s local spin on Japanese ramen. For what it’s worth, there are also poke bowls on the menu; with both ramen and poke bowls as house specialties, the Ono’s menu feels more like contemporary dining in 2019 than any other local restaurant that I can name. Lots of other dishes are show-stoppers, including a delicious pineapple creme brulee that’s served in an actual pineapple.
In the bar, Maumalanga plans to serve a list of seven or so “Tiki-inspired” craft cocktails, and has a secret plan for one of the two frozen daiquiri machines. The other daiquiri machine? It’s for frozen margaritas, so popular in Shreveport-Bossier that even the new Hawaiian restaurant will serve them.
Maybe the most exciting thing about Ono’s Hawaiian Grill is the location, which is across the street from Ki Mexico and about 60 yards from Marilynn’s Place. I’m no urban planner, but the area is starting to look like a dining district to me.
Like this kind of writing about local food? Check out our other recent restaurant reviews.
Ono’s Hawaiian Grill will be offering a special during 318 Restaurant Week, and you can see it here.
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