Restaurant Review: Everyone needs a little Island-take-me-away once in a while. Ono’s Island Style Bistro provides that reprieve… and a little more. It’s a cosy establishment located in the faraway unincorporated land of Bonita.
The best reason to eat in the South Bay is for the culinary innovation. Fusion cuisine is all the rage and Ono’s has an unbeatable list of unique sushi. Some delights include frying the outside of the sushi roll as well as Asian-Mexican fusion. Take a look at some of their offerings:
Yin Yang: inside/spicy scallops, crab, cucumber; outside/eel, yellowtail, red tobiko, unagi sauce, ponzu
Jalapeno Lava Roll: inside/shrimp tempura, cream cheese, spicy crab; outside/jalapeno, chipotle sauce, crunch tempura flakes, unagi sauce, sriracha
Cali Love (Baked): inside/crab, avocado, cucumber; outside/octopus, izurridai, spicy scallops, onions, chipotle sauce, tempura flakes, avocado, masago, spicy-sweet shaka sauce
Bonita: inside/crab, spicy tuna, avocado, cucumber; outside/fresh salmon, chipotle sauce, ponzu
You’ll have to come to this place and read the menu to know what’s inside the Ono’s House Roll, Creme De La Creme, The Big Easy, Cornucopia, Pizza (Baked), Sun-Kissed, Maui Wowie, and the Volcano (5 pieces baked). Don’t the names already entice you?
Other highly recommended menu items include:
The Island Sampler appetizer: pork gyoza, vegetable lumpia and edamame:
The Kalua Pig Ramen: kalua pig, enoki mushrooms, green onions, egg and shoyu broth.
Along the front wall, they also have a stellar review from Dining Around by Wolfgang D. Verkaaik that’s worth citing here:
It started out rather low key, a small juice bar cafe concept serving some unique health-oriented concoctions made with exotic Acai berries, blended teas and gourmet coffees. But I am thrilled to report there has been a major metamorphosis that will delight anyone who loves good food. Ono’s Island Style Bistro in Bonita has become a full-fledged contemporary and semi-elegant Cal Asian restaurant where diners can enjoy a fusion of very tasty Hawaiian, Japanese, Filipino and Pacific Rim influences.
Congrats are in order for owner Edward Rodriguez who had the vision and initiative to go from a small cafe to a much bigger restaurant. He does credit his parents (Ed and Lucita) for giving him the backbone to make it happen. Edward took over a real estate office next door, tore down the walls, built booths, furniture and redid the entire building himself. The dining room is nicely dressed in stylish looking fabrics, woods, bamboo, plants, ceiling fans and art. Walls are painted in warm earth tones.
The food is dazzling! Appetizers on the menu include lumpia (crispy rice paper rolls filled with seasoned beef and vegetables), Edamame beans, Gyoza dumplings, Mushroom Poppers (mushrooms filled with smoked salmon and cream cheese). Coconut Shrimp (with Thai chili sauce and peanut sauce), soft shell crab, tuna tartare and file mignon sate are also listed. Wait ’till you try an Ono salad much as The Molokai (spring greens, chicken breast, chipotle/ranch dressing, feta, cranberries, terra sticks and mixed vegetables). Other salad choices are a pear and mushroom, a seared Ahi and a marvelous poky stack salad. The menu then lists a number of hot entrees. We enjoyed the Macadamia Nut Crusted Salmon enhanced by a banana sauce and macadamia nuts served over honey/vinegar black rice and a side of Asian slaw.
Also very tempting were the Kalbi Ribs (grilled short ribs with jasmine rice and Kimchi) and Katsu Chicken (Ono’s version is superb, using Panko battered chicken breast served with mango tonkatsu sauce, jasmine rice and slaw). Kalua Pig is a big seller, rightfully so; the slow roasted shredded pork has an incomparable flavor and comes with cucumber salad with wasabi mint dressing, mixed cabbage and jasmine rice. Also listed are a teriyaki chicken plate, teriyaki chicken pasta and pork medallions. A big part of Ono’s success is due to the remarkable selection of specialty gourmet sushi rolls. They are unique, creative and fantastic. Take for instance the Onolicious Roll (this one makes my Top Ten list). It is a beauty of a roll made with smoked salmon, crab and cream cheese, then fried in tempura batter topped with baby scallops and crisped tiny bonita flakes for a flavor that hits the jackpot. Wow!
Other great rolls include the Mojito (spicy tuna, cucumber, yellow tail, avocado, lime slices and cilantro), The Big Easy Roll, the Hot Wahini (with yellowtail), The Rainbow Roll and the Caterpillar (with sweet mild eel, crab, cucumber and avocado). To Quench your thirst try their kiwi iced tea, or one of the flavored Haiko sakes or some of the superb wine Edward has put on his list.
They have Happy Hour drinks, including Sapporo on Draft and FlipFlop Wine (Cabernet Savingon, Merlot & Chardonnay for $4 and Sake bombs (draft beer and hot sake) for $5.50.
The kids will like the Flavored Green Iced Tea (with choice of mango, kiwi or lychee) or Flavored Milk Tea.
Desserts include Malasadas (Portuguese donuts make fresh to order), Zenga (cheesecake, crisp tortilla and flambeed bananas), Kahlua Creme Brulee or Molten Lava Cake.
Address: 4154 Bonita Rd., Bonita, CA 91902