When I think of great Milwaukee area restaurants there are many that come to mind but undoubtedly one of the top three I think of every time is Ono Kine Grindz in Wauwatosa. The little restaurant nuzzled between a tax preparation business and a beauty shop is nationally known as one the best Hawaiian restaurants in the country.
What’s unique about ono kine grindz, which translates to “the good food” is not just a restaurant, but a full-blown Hawaiian store. Think of it as a Hawaiian bodega. You can but amazing Hawaiian groceries gifts and get some of the best food you can eat. Technically the restaurant is takeout only, however there are tables in the upper part of the store that you can sit at and dine in.
Aside from the amazing food, the vibe of the place is amazing, taking you to the island the moment you walk in the door. The brightest part of the experience is the businesses owners Guy Roeseler & David Lau better know as “Uncle’s David and Guy”. Both spent many years living in Hawaii and travel back to the island multiple times a year. In fact, just this last week when I (Ridder) went and grabbed food, Uncles were visiting Hawaii researching for new food and menu items to bring back.
When the pandemic stuck and almost ever restaurant in the Milwaukee area was shattered, the take-out concept had them built to keep pressing forward. That along with David and Guy’s quick thinking they added curbside service and began offering pre-made take and heat meals. All great food and amazing value.
You can order anything on the menu, and you would be more than satisfied. For beginners a bit nervous about a cuisine you might have never had, I suggest starting with the Combo plate which comes with kalua pork and char su chicken. Basically, a great pulled pork and Chinese barbeque chicken. Every meal comes with amazing Hawaiian purple sticky rice and two sides (first timers I suggest macaroni pasta salad and li hing carrot slaw. Trust me.)
Personal favorites of mine (Ridder) are the roast pork belly, porko moco (a riff on local moco with kahula pork over the purple rice, slathered in an amazing Portuguese sausage gravy with a fried egg on top.) Kalbi ribs, Ahi Poke and tuna sashimi are some of my personal recommendations. No matter what you order you can’t go wrong. Personally, I love the kimchi so much I order a pound to take home every time.
Ono Kine Grinds is one of the greatest hidden gems of the Milwaukee area and true experience. Come for the good food, shop for some amazing one of a kind gifts and take home some unique groceries all at one place. Do yourself a favor, get to Ono tomorrow! Mahalo!
Learn more about Ono Kine Grindz HERE.