Go Bananas!

Columns Ono, You Know

April 8, 2013

Story By: Alana Folen |

I love having the opportunity to dine out numerous times per week as a part of my job. You know, it’s a tough task to make room in your belly time and time again for new food adventures, but someone’s got to do it and this girl is not complaining!

Yet, because a good majority of my days are spent eating at some pretty fabulous restaurants, when I’m home, I often like to juice throw some fruits and veggies into a blender and blend away! It’s healthy, easy and a lot of fun.

So, this week at work, I got down to business, ready to tackle a new Ono, You Know assignment, and guess what? Well, there was to be no monkeying around, because this assignment was like no other. I put the fork down, as no eating was involved. Instead, I traded my utensils for a straw, because it was time to drink up on bananas! However, I wouldn’t consider this “juicing,” as I was spoiled silly at the following Ono, You Know establishments with drinks I could never do justice to if I were to make them at home – a banana Margarita, a banana smoothie and a banana lassi. Yum!

I literally went bananas for this assignment. Here’s to slurping up some beautifully creamy banana creations!

Himalayan Kitchen

Since 2004, Himalayan Kitchen has reached the peak of perfection with its Indian and Nepalese fare. Its naan bread and lamb curry are off the charts, quickly making Himalayan Kitchen a full-fledged favorite on my list of superb restaurants.

As soon as I set foot into this quaint establishment, located on 11th Avenue, I felt as if I was transported to another part of the world – India, perhaps – enjoying a fabulous lunch on the patio of what to some may be a hidden gem of an eatery.

The food is spot on, and don’t get me started on the drinks, especially the lassi. Owner and head chef Suman Basnet knows his Banana Lassi. A lassi is a popular yogurt-based drink that traces its ori-gins to the Punjab regions of India and Pakistan. While mango lassi is most common at most Indian restaurants, Basnet says he also can make this smoothie-like drink centered around banana.

“We usually have Banana Lassi as a special every now and then, but starting today, we’ll make sure we have it available for our customers,” he confirms.

According to Basnet, Banana Lassi cools you down during the warmer days, and features homemade banana puree and homemade yogurt blended together with sugar and topped with a light touch of fresh mango pulp.

And if you’re weary about the spiciness of Indian cuisine, well Banana Lassi is your best friend. The yogurt in the lassi neutralizes the acid and heat of the spicy dish, bringing with it dramatic cooling relief when your mouth is on fire.

Himalayan Kitchen
1137 11th Ave.
735-1122

Big City Diner

Wet your whistle at Big City Diner with its Banana Margarita ($6.25), a drink that with just one sip will diminish your worries and flick that switch in your brain from work mode to vacation mode in a matter of seconds.

Available at all Big City Diner locations islandwide (Kailua, Ward, Waipio, Pearl-ridge and Kaimuki), this luscious Mexican-inspired drink is a smooth blend of tequila, lemon/lime juice and banana puree poured into a tall, chilled glass accented with a sweet sliver of pineapple and a cherry for a pop of color, with a few sprinkles of salt around the rim.

“Banana Margarita is one of our rather unique drinks,” says chef Dennis Franks of the Pearlridge location. “It has a nice tropical flavor and you can really taste the banana.”

BCD’s Banana Margarita is a fun drink that will brighten up your palate, and sipping from a neon-pink straw definitely makes for a party!

And if you prefer a non-alcoholic version of this crazy cocktail, Big City Diner staff will be more than happy to whip it up for you.

Big City Diner
Pearlridge (and various locations)

98-211 Pali Momi St.
487-8188

HI Sandwich & Drink

I have a soft spot for smoothies – I could practically live off them if need be – so, of course, I had to say hello to the
Banana Smoothie ($4.95) at HI Sandwich & Drink in Waimalu Shopping Center.

Priced at $4.95 for a 24-ounce cup, this Banana Smoothie stirs up excitement, as owner Kim Nguyen is a pro when it comes to mastering the blend of banana slices, sweet cream, vanilla ice cream and sugar. Enjoy your smoothie as is or choose to add black pearls, color jelly or grass jelly to your drink. Black pearls are my personal pick.

“If you want more than one flavor in your smoothie, you can add on another flavor for $5.20,” Nguyen adds. “Taro, jack-fruit, pineapple and strawberry also are customer favorites.”

And while you’re here, you must pick up one of Nguyen’s incredible Vietnamese sandwiches served on your choice of French bread or croissant and filled with your desired filling and a flavorful medley of veggies dressed with a special blend of seasonings.

HI Sandwich & Drink
Waimalu Shopping Center
98-042 Kamehameha Hwy.

487-7372