The Place: Ma Ono Fried Chicken and Whisky, 4437 California Ave SW, WEST SEATTLE, 206-935-1075
Photo by Joshua Huston
The Digs: The recently expanded bar seating doubled the size of Ma Ono's bar area. The best seats are still at the L-shaped bar though, which offers a prime view of the action in the kitchen. The bartender keeps an impressive pace as well, pouring wine and beer primarily, but also mixing up some nice cocktails. When a customer asked if they made their whiskey sours with egg white, the bartender obliged and frothed the egg white first, using a battery-operated milk frother. Sure, it's the easy way out, but you should have seen the head on that whiskey sour.
If you aren't later dining on fried chicken in the restaurant, prepare to kick yourself. It's the star attraction at Ma Ono, and 9 out of 10 tables in the restaurant have one of the overflowing platters of fried chicken on their table. Do yourself a favor and make a reservation for your next visit.The Deal: On Sunday through Thursday nights from 5 to 7 p.m., you can prefunk in Ma Ono's bar with some cheap drinks and snacks. The happy menu is small, but includes fries or chile-garlic edamame for $4, Georgetown Brewing beers for $3.50, red, white, or sparkling wine for $6 sparking, and $4 well drinks. When Spring Hill relaunched as Ma Ono Fried Chicken and Whisky last year, they unveiled an impressive menu centered around their famous fried chicken. It's full of salty small plates, with lots of Hawaiian influences. While there aren't many special prices, you can soak up the booze with $7 steamed BBQ pork buns, $6 SPAM musubi, $3 warm Portuguese bread with whipped pan drippings, and $8 grilled shishito peppers. The quality of the food belies the cost, and puts most other bar menus to shame.
The Verdict: The downside of just stopping in for drinks and snacks at Ma Ono, is that you'll be craving fried chicken before too long and alas, that has to be reserved in advance. I wish there were at least some sort of fried chicken on the bar menu. I think Chef Fuller could probably crank out some seriously craveable chicken wings. Or maybe some chicken gizzards. And alas, there is no WHISKY on the bar menu. I love Georgetown Brewing, but think a buck or two off a shot of whisky during happy hour would make this happy hour just a little more happy.