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Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014

Bringing Hawaiian Sunshine to Milwaukee

Ono Kine Grindz stocks island delicacies

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If winter is wearing on your nerves and you don’t think you can stand another day of frigid temperatures, gray skies and dirty snow banks, stop in at Ono Kine Grindz (7215 W. North Ave.) in Wauwatosa. Part restaurant/deli, part Hawaiian market, the space is chock-full of goodies from the Hawaiian Islands.

Co-owners Guy Roeseler and David Lau have done a great job stocking their shelves with specialty foods and treats from Hawaii, including bulk coffee, sodas, candy and unusual canned vegetables. In the small freezer section you can even find that luau staple, poi (a gluten-free dish made from the root of the taro plant). It’s relatively unusual to find many of these products outside of the Hawaiian Islands, even in big cities like Chicago, so Milwaukee is pretty lucky to have a store like this in town.

Along with the grocery portion of the shop, customers can find a nice selection of Hawaiian shirts, Hawaiian cookbooks and CDs of Hawaiian music.

After you’ve perused the shelves and seen the interesting items available for purchase, stick around and order up a plate (or two, because it’s too hard to choose) of deliciously prepared food. Carry out, or pull up a seat in the small dining area at the back. One table features a grass umbrella!

Wisconsin-sized portions at wallet-friendly prices are pleasant for customers, but it’s the tasty dishes that will bring you back for more. Try the Char Siu Chicken ($9), a heaping mound of smoky, grilled marinated chicken. Another favorite is the Kalua Pork ($9); slow smoked and perfectly seasoned, this melt-in-your-mouth tender meat will transport you to a warmer, happier place. If you want to expand your food horizons, try the Laulau ($11), pork and butterfish wrapped and steamed in a taro leaf. All of the dishes are served with purple sticky rice, yummy macaroni salad and an outstanding carrot-pineapple slaw.

When summer does finally return, come to Ono Kine Grindz for their authentic shave ice. Sort of like a snow cone, shave ice is a cool treat of flavored ice, but with finely shaved instead of crushed ice. Only available on summer weekends, real Malolo syrup flavors include strawberry, fruit punch, lemon-lime, orange and grape. Year-round, try an always-refreshing mango, pineapple or strawberry protein smoothie ($5).

So, toss a flowered shirt on under your parka, head over to Ono Kine Grindz and escape the frozen brutality of winter for at least a little while. Aloha!

For more information visit okgrindz.com.