Vincente Benedett learned to cook at luaus put on by Hawaiian family members in San Francisco, where he was born and raised. So when he and his wife, Elena, decided to open a restaurant in Cincinnati, they went with the food he knows and loves. Whenever possible, Onolicious Hawaii‘s ingredients are organic and local, including “Hawaiian local” from relatives on Oahu: li hing mui (dried plum) powder, Hawaiian salt, and the Aloha Shoyu sauce that flavors their signature Shoyu chicken. Benedett sears the thighs first, then braises them for hours. The result is seriously tender chicken with a sweet low end. Savory and sweet permeate the menu, including the Hawaiian-style Pearl City pork shoulder and the musubi, Spam glazed and caramelized to perfection, is wrapped with rice in nori and served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce.
Onolicious’s Hawaiian cuisine borrows from all over the Pacific. You’ll find traditional Filipino eggrolls (lumpia) served with a vinegary dipping sauce that also pairs perfectly with their lightly blackened, fall-off-the-skewer beef sticks. The papaya salad packs lots of zesty crunch in contrast to those nap-inducing plus-size portions of meat. Finish with the Haupia, a silky, sweet coconut pudding, “baked with aloha” by Newport’s F & Goode Desserts. Or, if you stop by Sunday for the “Poco Loco” brunch, you might catch Elena’s Pineapple Rolls before they’re gone. Mahalo!
Onolicious Hawaii, 3715 Madison Rd., Oakley, (513) 321-0034