I may be intruding on a nice little neighborhood secret, but I feel it's my duty to tell folks that there's a yummy luau going down five days a week in Timonium.
The Ono Grill is nothing fancy - just terrific Hawaiian-style barbecue served
out of a little shack sitting behind Jay's Shave Ice on York Road. It's the kind of place you'd expect to find, if you're lucky, at the end of a dirt road near a beach on Oahu.
Jay's has been dishing out shave ice (the Hawaiian name for snowballs), ice cream and coffee drinks for a while. Now the Jay's folks have opened the grill named for the Hawaiian word for delicious. There are a few chairs and benches in the yard, or you could wait inside for your order to be prepared.
The menu is short - only five items. Naturally, we ordered all five, which were prepared on a gas grill next to the small counter.
All five were either good or very good. The best was the jolting beef brisket ($7), which had been marinated in mustard and other spices, including a hint of coffee, then slow-cooked and sliced thinly. It was delicious and reminded us of bul kogi, Korean-style barbecued beef.
We also raved over the pork ribs ($9.50), which were succulent, tender, peppery and sweet. Kalua pulled pork ($5) had a pleasing vinegar flavor and was served on a big, fresh bun. It was a bit dry, but came back alive the next day when we reheated the leftovers in the microwave.
Ono chicken ($6.50) had been marinated and smoked, and came off the grill with a rich, smoky flavor. Finally, the Big Kahuna burger ($5.25) was perfectly big and drenched in a mayonnaise-based sauce. It was a winner, but seemed superfluous next to the other dishes.
Side dishes - jasmine rice and grilled vegetables - were perfect accompaniments.
For dessert, we went back inside for shave ice. (Well, to be honest, we had our shave ice before dinner, while the food was cooking.) A kiddie-size Hawaiian - with banana, coconut and pineapple flavors ($1.65) - was plenty big for me. But next time, we're trying the halo-halo, the Filipino-style fruit concoction.
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Waiting area: **1/2
Where: 2046 York Road, Timonium
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
Prices: Hawaiian-themed grilled chicken, brisket, pork, ribs and burgers, from $5 to $9.50; credit cards accepted (but cash is preferred)
Outstanding: ****; Good: ***; Fair or uneven: **; Poor: *