UPDATE: The original Ono Hawaiian Foods closed mid 2017. The current occupants (no relation to the original owners) of the space decided to name their new restaurant “Da Ono Hawaiian Foods” but this is NOT the same restaurant/owners as the original. RIP Ono Hawaiian Foods.
Forget about that burger. You’re in Hawaii, so have a taste of the local cuisine. When the laulau cravings strike, there’s one place to go: Ono Hawaiian Foods. This legendary hole-in-the-wall on Kapahulu Avenue is known for making some of the most mouthwatering laulau in the islands.
I like to start with the pipikaula, a local rift on beef jerky perfected by paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboys of yesteryear. The beef is broiled just before it’s served and then sprinkled with Hawaiian sea salt.
What mashed potatoes? The starch of choice for Native Hawaiians is poi (made from taro), and the best way to eat it is to scoop up a hearty portion with two fingers. We’re not kidding. The only ones who will look at you weird will be the tourists. And then just as your taste buds are confused AF, dive right into the lomi-lomi salmon, a blend of raw salmon, diced tomato, and green onion.
Laulau is the pièce de résistance of Hawaiian cuisine. Think large chunks of pork and a piece of butterfish wrapped in copious amounts of luau leaves. This classic Hawaiian comfort food is traditionally cooked in an underground oven known as an imu. The result? An intimidating, yet irresistible taste of Hawaii that is large enough for two and will most definitely melt both mouths.
Of course, you’ve got to have kalua pork to go with your laulau. Traditional kalua pork is also prepared using an underground imu. A whole pig is placed in the pit and then topped with scorching hot rocks and banana leaves. The pig is left to slowly cook in the pit for the whole day.
No Hawaiian meal is complete without haupia. This coconut-milk based dessert will bring your meal full-circle. I always leave Ono Hawaiian Foods with a box of haupia to take home and enjoy.
Ono Hawaiian Foods
726 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816
Note from the Author: My photos from this post originally appeared on this article.