West Seattle’s Ma’ono is the type of place where I can get styled up on a Friday night, but leave the white tablecloths, crudos and other superfluous fancy pleasantries aside.
For those of you who love a modern and clean interior where the focal point is the kitchen, rest assured: husband/wife duo Mark and Marjorie Fuller did not switch up the interior of Spring Hill. The owners have, however, devised a new restaurant concept and menu centered around fried chicken, in addition to Hawaiian-themed dishes inspired by Chef Fuller’s childhood in Kau’ai.
The new menu, which debuted five days ago, is such a deviation from their former upscale Pacific NW-themed menu they have renamed their restaurant to Ma’ono, which translates “to make delicious.” The only remnants from the old menu are the saimin noodles and the $19 burger.
As I walk in with my man and two friends, the always elegant and genuine Ms. Fuller (who should really pair up with Sushi Kappo Tamura’s Steve Tamura to teach a master class on how to perfect front of house customer service) warmly lights up and asks my friends about their Shiba Inu. My friends used to live in West Seattle, and Ms. Fuller remembers seeing them walk by with their dog. What’s incredible is that was several years ago and she still remembers them and regards them as regulars.
A marinated beets with pineapple and horseradish yogurt starter makes me feel like less of a glutton, but we are all here for the headline act, the famous twice-fried buttermilk fried chicken. Apparently, the chicken was so wildly popular when the Fullers offered it as part of Spring Hill’s Monday supper line-up that it prompted the couple to permanently add it to the menu. Impeccably prepared three ways – Original, Gochujang & Hot Chilies (my favorite), and Hot Mustard-honey & Toasted Sesame Seeds – and served with a side of housemade kimchi and rice, I cannot think of a more appropriate dish on a rainy February night.
Sometimes the kitchen runs out of chicken, but don’t freak out as getting shut out simply means making more room to sample the rest of the intriguing menu. The Portuguese sausage dog with banh mi vegetable condiments and chicken liver pate is a big hit at our table. Two of us are now hot dog converts, thanks to Fuller’s pimped-out interpretation of this American favorite.
The whole rainbow trout simply prepared Asian style with salt topped with cilantro delightfully offsets the carnivorous dishes of the evening.
Look out, my West Seattle friends, I will be elbowing my way through viaduct construction traffic to enjoy your beloved reincarnated restaurant.
Tip: They only fry up 30 chicken orders per night so best to reserve a birdie ahead of time.