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Ono, You Know

Rockin’ Out to Ribs This Mother’s Day

Story By Alana Folen Photos By Leah Friel
May 13 - 19, 2012

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Happy Mother’s Day, moms! This Mother’s Day, I’m going out on a limb and treating my fabulous mother to everything and anything ribs! First of all, my mom adores ribs and secondly, what’s not to love about “America’s favorite barbecue dish”? It’s a comfort meal that never ceases to put a smile on her face.

So, with this said, this week, I ventured out to three Ono, You Know establishments best known for their tender, juicy, and oh, so delicious ribs. Hopefully these morsels of meat will tickle her fancy. It’s forbidden for all mothers to lift a finger on Mother’s Day, so leave the grill as is and let these following rockin’ restaurants do the dirty work.

The Mandalay

Amid the hustle and bustle of downtown Honolulu, you’ll find The Mandalay. Conveniently located on Alakea Street, this popular Chinese restaurant offers up magnificent Cantonese fare that is worth sampling, if you haven’t already.

“We have many Cantonese dishes on our menu, but we also feature Chinese dishes with a touch of local flair to it,” says owner Linda Chan.

Honey Garlic Ribs ($9.95) is a good example of that. Doesn’t the name alone make your mouth water? Yum! This onolicious dish features eight pieces of ribs tenderized, deep-fried and then tossed in a special sweet and sour sauce. I have one word for you: amazing.

“The taste is a bit tangy,” Chan describes. “The sauce really is good. We add a hint of oyster sauce to the sweet and sour sauce. This dish does very, very well — our customers love it!”

So, if you’re still in search of the perfect place to wine and dine Mom this Mother’s Day, treat her to an unforgettable meal at The Mandalay. She’ll love Honey Garlic Ribs, not to mention the special dinner buffet featuring Roasted Pig, Snow Crab Legs, Prime Rib, Peking Duck with Bun and more. The Mother’s Day dinner buffet is priced at $28.99 for adults, $24.99 for seniors age 60 and over, and $17.99 for children ages 3 to 12. Seatings are at 5 and 7:30 p.m. Call for reservations.

The Mandalay
1055 Alakea St.
525.8585
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Top of Waikiki

Living life on the edge is what it’s all about at Top of Waikiki. OK … well, not quite, but if a meal with a view is what you’re after, you’ll find all of this and more at this award-winning establishment. Earning its spot as Hawaii’s only revolving restaurant, located on the 18th floor of Waikiki Business Plaza, this upscale restaurant offers diners an enchanting 360-degree view of beautiful Waikiki (the restaurant revolves one floor rotation every hour at rotates at the speed of about one mile per hour).

Open daily, Top of Waikiki draws in the Happy Hour and dinner crowds with its eclectic cuisine with an emphasis on Pacific fusion. Executive chef John Neff takes the reins in the kitchen, and with more than 15 years of culinary experience and having done stints across the nation, you know your meal is in good hands.

While Top of Waikiki’s menu is quite extravagant, a stand-out item for rib fanatics undoubtedly is Kalani’s Kalbi Braised Short Ribs ($34). Tagged as a signature item on the menu, according to Neff, Kalani’s Kalbi Braised Short Ribs feature an 8-ounce short rib drizzled in a succulent kalbi sauce, and garnished with baby bak choy, Maui onion kim chee, sweet and sour cucumbers, and peppers and onions escabeche.

“We grill and braise the short ribs for four hours until it’s nice and tender,” Neff explains. The dish gives off a sweet flavor with a little bit of spice.

“Actually, this dish came about because Kalani is one of my sous chefs and he likes braised meats, so we collaborated to put this dish together,” he says.

Experience a meal “above” the rest at Top of Waikiki. You’ll be glad you did!

Top of Waikiki
Waikiki Business Plaza
2270 Kalakaua Ave.
923.3877
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Tony Roma’s

Lastly, Tony Roma’s must make its mark on the ultimate rib frenzy. With one location on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki and another on Kaonohi Street in Aiea, this favorite eatery is a renowned go-to spot for ribs. The Waikiki eatery opened its doors to hungry diners in 1980, and regional chef JP Choy has been cooking up a storm in the kitchen, catering to a plethora of palates.

“Our menu is so diverse — we have ribs, seafood and steak,” says Waikiki general manager Grace Villagracia. “However, people still come here primarily for the ribs.”

And that’s no surprise, because Tony Roma’s makes finger-licking good ribs that are out-of-this-world.

According to Choy, the Waikiki eatery sells close to 300 slabs of ribs per day, in fact.

Whether you choose to attack The Original Baby Back Ribs (Roma Rack $24.99, Half Slab $18.59, Full Slab $28.99) — tender, lean pork loin meat, basted with Tony Roma’s original sauce or your choice of one of the restaurant’s other delicious sauces — or St. Louis Ribs (Roma Rack $21.99, Half Slab $16.99, Full Slab $25.99), a larger, meatier cut of pork rib with more natural marbling, finished with your choice of sauce — you’ll be begging for more. It’s so good! Tony Roma’s also specializes in Bountiful Beef Ribs (three bones $21.99, four bones $26.99) and Beef Short Rib ($26.99).

Raving about ribs, when I happen upon an “Alana vs. Food” moment, it’s all about Tony Roma’s combination entrees. Give me a Star Studded Sampler, and I’m in rib heaven! Priced at $25.99, the eatery’s Star Studded Sampler is comprised of a sample of Original Baby Backs and St. Louis Style ribs with Carolina Honeys and Red Hots sauce, and Bountiful Beef. This truly is any carnivore’s kanak attack!

Or, the next time you’re at Tony Roma’s, you make the call, and relish in the great taste of St. Louis Ribs and your choice of barbecue chicken, South Miami fried shrimp, mahi mahi, grilled salmon, filet medallion or shrimp scampi. I personally love Baby Back Ribs and Filet Medallions Combo ($29.99).

I’ll leave you with one final thought: Arrive early; the Waikiki establishment does not take reservations. However, free valet parking is available from 5:30 p.m. daily.

Tony Roma’s
1972 Kalakaua Ave. (Waikiki),
98-150 Kaonohi St. (Aiea)
942.2121 (Waikiki), 487.9911 (Aiea)
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