How can you not love a restaurant that prides itself on fried chicken, whiskey and noodles? It honestly sounds like heaven to me. Well, that’s Ma’ono in a nutshell. It’s such a simple and different idea, but the Hawaiian-style restaurant is a HUGE success in West Seattle.
Ma’ono (4437 California Ave. S.W.), which used to be known as Spring Hill, is not a secret in Seattle. You should make a reservation before you go — unless you don’t mind waiting to be seated. My mom, Tove and I dropped in the other night (on a Friday), and we were originally told it would be an hour wait. We lucked out though, because the hostess quickly took a second look at her seating chart and changed direction. She suddenly told us it would only be 15 minutes, which actually wound up only being a five-minute wait for a table.
The most popular item on the menu at Ma’ono is the fried chicken. It’s so popular that they recommend reserving a chicken when you make your table reservation. This is no joke. If you want fried chicken — you need to tell them ahead of time. Ma’ono uses “naturally and humanely raised chickens from Mt. Vernon,” so they only have a limited amount every day. No reservation means no guarantee. The fried chicken comes in half or full orders, and it’s served with kimchi, sticky rice and dipping sauces. We lucked out at Ma’ono once again, because we got the last half chicken available when we ordered.
The fried chicken at Ma’ono is as good as (or better than) advertised. As Tove put it, “I think people who don’t like fried chicken would even like this fried chicken.” I honestly think it’s the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. It’s crunchy, but not too crunchy, and there’s a ton of moist, tender meat on the bones. If you’re going to Ma’ono — you have to order the fried chicken. Otherwise, you’re missing out on the whole point of eating there.
On top of the fried chicken, my mom, Tove and I also ordered manapua (steamed BBQ pork buns), a side of macaroni salad, and the Ma’ono Saimin (smoked pork and shoyu broth, Spam, country ham, cured egg, scallion, fish cake, and nori). I’m not a “foodie,” but I think saimin is best compared to pho. It’s a Hawaiian noodle soup served in a large bowl. The serving at Ma’ono is more than enough to split between three or four people. The saimin had a different taste than we were used to, but we all really enjoyed it.
The three of us were full to the brim by the end of our meal, but we decided to take a look at the desert menu anyway. After a long debate and a few questions for our server, we pulled the trigger on popcorn ice cream. Yep, popcorn ice cream. Here’s how they make it: Ma’ono pops fresh popcorn, they pour ice cream over the popcorn, let the mixture sit for a day to soak in the flavors, and then they strain the popcorn out and refreeze the ice cream. It sounds crazy, but the popcorn ice cream at Ma’ono is INCREDIBLE. It’s salty, delicious, goodness. Just like the fried chicken, a trip to Ma’ono isn’t complete without trying the popcorn ice cream.
At the end of our night, we randomly bumped into the manager of the Seattle Fish Company (located next door to Ma’ono) on the street. He’s friends with many of the employees at Ma’ono, and he quickly started telling us all about the restaurant. The owner is a guy named Mark Fuller, who trained under popular Seattle chef Tom Douglas. When the restaurant was known as Spring Hill, the Monday night fried chicken special was so popular (it was booked out for “four months“) they decided to change the entire restaurant and make fried chicken the featured item on the menu. The Seattle Fish Company manager (I forgot his name — if we even got it) also told us Ma’ono is really popular for its brunch (Saturday and Sunday from 10am-2pm). He recommended the poached eggs with sausage gravy and a biscuit (he literally kissed the tips of his fingers like an Italian chef after he talked about it).
I honestly hadn’t even heard of Ma’ono until the night we went there (thanks for the suggestion, mom!), but I’m really glad we discovered it. The fried chicken and popcorn ice cream make it worth the visit alone. Not to mention, we didn’t even try to whiskey (which has its own menu). If you’re looking for something delicious and different — Ma’ono in West Seattle is definitely the place to go.
Have you ever eaten at Ma’ono? What did you order? How was the food? We’d love to hear all about it! Please leave a comment below or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out Seattle Bloggers for more great places to eat and drink around the Puget Sound!