Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ono Luau Grinds

(1/16/12 update: Ono Luau Grinds is closed. They apparently were a temporary operation. Salmon Fusion has opened in this very cart as of 1/5/12)

Ono Luau Grinds is a Hawaiian plate lunch cart near the corner of SW 3rd and Washington in downtown Portland, Oregon. As of this writing, this cart operates out of the old Gin Northern Thai food cart (which closed down in October 2011).

Ono Luau Grinds has been in business since the beginning of November 2011. I was in the area in mid-November (when they were about two weeks old), and decided to try them out.

Note that they are still using the Gin Northern Thai truck
(Can still see Gin's logo near the upper left of the photo)
I ordered the Pupuli Chicken plate ($5.75). Basically, it's strips of teriyaki chicken, served on a bed of white rice and a scoop of macaroni salad. The chicken is topped with some toasted white sesame seeds and green onions, while the macaroni salad is topped with some fresh grated carrot.

Menu (mid-November 2011)

Pupuli Chicken (Teriyaki Chicken)
(Ono Luau Grinds)
I thought the chicken was quite good here. The sweetness of the teriyaki marinade really stamped its presence on the poultry. The chicken retained its juiciness, the excess landing on the rice. Being from Hawaii, I appreciate the bed of rice underneath the chicken because the starch captures all that amazing sauce. That now-flavored rice just makes the dish better. The toasty sesame seeds added some additional depth.

The mac salad -- really the true test for almost all Hawaiian plate lunches -- was a success overall. The grated carrot was great from a presentation standpoint. I detected what may have been chopped-up hard-boiled eggs in there, which I personally enjoy (reminds me of my grandma's mac salad). While the mac salad did not have that peppery bite that I generally crave, I'm sure people in general will enjoy it.

$5.75 sounds about right for a mini plate lunch here. They also have Pork Adobo ($6.50), Kalbi Ribs ($7), and Kalua Pig ($6.50), among other items. They even offer Clam Chowder ($4). Although the chowder is not Hawaiian, it should be a popular item during the winter months. Note to Ono Luau Grinds...why not make Portuguese Bean Soup? It's fairly easy to make and it's hella popular in Hawaii! If you're gonna make a Hawaiian food cart, stay true to that culinary point of view!

Ono Luau Grinds even offers a loyalty program. I believe if you return around a dozen times, you'll get the next meal free (but apparently you have to save these stamps the person at the window will give you).

They even inherited Gin's stamps!
Check out Ono Luau Grinds to get your Hawaiian plate lunch fix! 7/10

No comments:

Post a Comment