Ono eatery's healthy Hawaiian food bowl you over
Ufrieda Ho's discovered a great place to to try out trendy poké
It's a good day when delicious things tick the box for healthy too. It's made the arrival of poké bowls in South Africa a happy addition to the foodie scene.
Poké (pronounced poh-keh) means to "cut into pieces" in Hawaiian and is a staple of fresh, fast snacking for North Pacific islanders. It's essentially an arranged salad of diced raw seafood, cooled cooked rice and noodles (or even zucchini noodles) with everything from seaweed and edamame beans to crunchy purple cabbage, avo, pineapple and cubes of tofu, drizzled with a light Asian-style dressing.
The place to dive in for your introduction to Hawaiian-inspired cuisine in Joburg is Ono in Illovo. It's more a takeaway joint than restaurant, but there are a few tables under an array of metal palm fronds, as well as swing seats cosying up to a pink wire flamingo, where you can tuck into your lunch at leisure.
Ono's menu is straightforward, with five types of poké: diced raw salmon or tuna; prawns in Sriracha; Ono's "Tiger's Milk" (a citrus-based marinade) chicken; or vegetarian options of tofu or chickpeas. You can also build your own bowl with construction starting at the counter.
Poké is a balance of cooked and raw, crunchy and tender, and an arrangement of ingredients for maximised colour and visual appeal. Layering matters.
At Ono it starts with choosing between brown, sushi or black rice for the base. Your takeaway plastic bowl is then topped with the marinated protein of your choice along with garnishes and vegetables sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds and drizzled with yuzu (a spicy zest) or wasabi and soya sauce or Sriracha dressings.
A large bowl (which is a standard size) costs between R95 and R115. The raw fish options hit the mark and black rice is definitely the way to go. These bowls were light, fresh and flavourful. The chicken, though, got the thumbs-down for being dry and sad.
Ono also offers breakfasts of black rice pudding made with warm coconut milk (R65) and a chia seed pudding of soaked chia seeds in coconut or almond milk that also comes flavoured with beetroot and cocoa or cinnamon and turmeric (R70).
The health theme extends to the freshly squeezed fruit and veggie juices as well as the smoothies and protein shakes.
Ono's poké bowls are no-frills (even at their hefty takeaway menu price) but they're fun, fresh and packed with novelty factor.
NEED TO KNOW
What to eat: Choose black rice as your base layer.
What to drink: Any of the freshly-squeezed juices.
Who you'll see: Friends meeting friends, and people who prefer a classier takeout.
Could be better: Portions of raw fish could be bigger.
Check out: Swings that double as chairs.
Address: 1 Corlett Drive, Illovo Junction, Illovo.