chris’ ono grinds island grill / mission valley – san diego, ca
Jake, T and I came here shortly after I got back from Boston. I got an Entertainment Book a couple of months ago for only $5 (on tax day!) so I figured it’s about time we start using the sucker for deals! Chris’ Ono Grinds Island Grill was one of the places – but only for the location in Mission Valley (they also have a location in North Park).
They have a couple of seats outside. One is a glass table and the other one (behind Jake) is one of those giant spool wood tables. I opted for the “real” table, hah! This location is kind of in a weird spot off Mission Gorge Place. As you drive down, you just see a bunch of different offices and you think, “Is there really a place to eat down here?” and then you stumble right upon it. I imagine this is a great spot for anyone who works around here though!
Menu – side one.
Menu – side two.
[waimea wings / $5.99]
Since there were three of us and we would be sharing two plates, we decided to also spring for a Pupu (or appetizer). There are four different sauces to choose from: Guava BBQ, Huli Huli, Buffalo or Lava. Our waiter told us the Guava BBQ is more on the sweet side, maybe even a touch too sweet and that the lava is actually spicy. We decided to go with the Huli Huli which is a Hawaiian style teriyaki sauce.
The wings are grilled and smothered in Huli Huli sauce which is a little sweet and very reminiscent of teriyaki sauce – similar flavors and spices. It came with a side of sauce (which I believe is Blue Cheese sauce but it might have also been Ranch – sorry, I don’t recall). The wings were tender and the outside skin has a good char from the grilling. The wings are also quite large – not dinky little wings – with plenty of juicy meat. Very yummy!
[plate combo with huli huli chicken and kalua pork / $10.49]
Our Entertainment Book coupon was a “Buy One Get One Free” up to $10 and we decided to spring for combination plates to try as much of the Hawaiian BBQ as possible. Maximization! Must try all the things!
Our first plate had the huli huli chicken again (but this time in chicken thigh form instead of wings) and the kalua pork with a side of sweet potato medallions. The sweet potatoes looked like a large stack of gold coins to me – but instead of all shiny and bright it was grilled and slightly charred on the outside. The sweet potatoes were soft and moist and that touch of outer caramelization from the grilling amped up the flavor of the sweet potato just a touch more.
The huli huli chicken was one of my favorite items here – I loved the tender thigh meat and the huli huli sauce penetrated and really got into the meat to give a ton of flavor. Very moist and juicy and cooked nicely on the grill.
The kalua pork was also good – not too salty (which has been the case with other kalua pork I’ve tried) and the meat was still tender and not dry – always a plus!
[plate combo – kalbi ribs and teriyaki steak / $12.99]
We went all beef for the second plate getting a combination with the kalbi ribs and the teriyaki steak. The steak also has the same Huli Huli sauce that’s featured on the wings and chicken but is instead on sliced top sirloin. I didn’t seem to like it has much on the steak and found the steak was a little too dry for me – the meat wasn’t quite as tender as the chicken. The kalbi ribs were also just kind of ho-hum for me. They had a sweet-sour sauce on them unlike the other items we had and the meat was slightly tough to chew through. I liked it more than the teriyaki steak but overall I much prefer the chicken here.
We also got the classic macaroni salad on the side here which was really good – it wasn’t overloaded with mayonnaise but rather just had a touch – nay, even just a hint – of mayo in the salad. The noodles were nice and still firm (al dente!) and it just had a few herbs/veggies mixed in to give it flavor. A very good version of macaroni salad if you ask me.
Chris’ Ono Grinds Island Grill is a welcome addition to the Hawaiian BBQ scene – good huli huli sauce and excellent side dishes. It all tastes fresh and housemade – including all of the sauces – which is a nice change from that other chain restaurant (which I do still frequent from time to time – I guess I’m not that picky about Hawaiian BBQ).
Chris’ Ono Grinds Island Grill
4651 Mission Gorge Pl.
San Diego, CA