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Ohana Island Grill brings a taste of the islands to Oxford

Hawaiian barbecue restaurant Ohana Island Grill just opened in Oxford, much to the delight of students who were looking for a new cuisine in the area.
Hawaiian barbecue restaurant Ohana Island Grill just opened in Oxford, much to the delight of students who were looking for a new cuisine in the area.

On Sunday night, as I was checking all the emails I refused to look at over Thanksgiving break, I noticed an interesting message from Oxford To You.

The email was promoting a new restaurant in Oxford, called Ohana Island Grill. I’ve never clicked on an email from Oxford To You so quickly.

Ohana Island Grill is a restaurant that recently opened in Oxford and specializes in Hawaiian barbecue. In 7th and 8th grade I actually lived in Hawaii, and when I saw some of my favorite foods from my time there on the menu, I knew I had to try it.

With three of my friends, I made my way to the new restaurant at 30 West Walnut Street. I ordered the chicken katsu, a Japanese-style fried chicken cutlet that I haven’t stopped thinking about since I moved back to Ohio. When I lived in Hawaii, potlucks were essential for every event and chicken katsu was essential at every potluck.

Ohana’s chicken katsu, which was served with a sweet sauce, was everything I had hoped for. It was perfectly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The sauce added a nice, sweet contrast that complemented the chicken.

Most of the restaurant’s plates come in regular or mini size. I ordered the regular, and for about $10, I got a lot of food. The box is still in my fridge with one or maybe two more lunches’ worth of food in it. If you’re not looking for a large meal, I’d suggest the mini size, which seems more appropriate for one meal, but I’m definitely not mad about my leftovers.

I also tried the BBQ chicken, which was surprisingly great. It doesn’t go overboard with the barbecue flavor, but still manages to satisfy with a savory taste. Like the chicken katsu, it was also really tender and juicy.

Finally, for dessert, I ordered some malasadas for the table. Malasadas are a type of Portuguese doughnut — balls of fried dough that are then rolled in sugar.

The malasadas were light and airy, and they’re perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth. Personally, I don’t have as much of a sweet tooth as I used to, but they were still really good.

Photo by Lexi Whitehead | The Miami Student
Senior Campus and Community editor Lexi Whitehead shared a Hawaiian feast with friends while visiting Ohana Island Grill for the first time.

Obviously, I couldn’t eat their whole menu, but there are a breadth of options past what I ordered. Ohana Island Grill has a variety of chicken dishes, seafood plates and beef and pork options, including Kalua pork. They also serve burgers, salads and saimin, a noodle soup. 

Most of their dishes are served with a side of white rice and a side of macaroni salad. I passed on the macaroni salad because it contains seafood, but my friends said it was quite good. The rice had the perfect amount of stickiness, and because I substituted the macaroni salad for another side of rice, I had plenty to eat alongside my chicken.

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Though I probably wouldn’t recommend this restaurant to any vegans or vegetarians, as they seem to have very limited options in that area, anyone else should definitely check it out. If you’re unfamiliar with the cuisine, the staff seemed happy to explain what each dish entails.

With a slew of restaurants in Oxford, Ohana Island Grill brings a new flavor profile to the town, one that I hope sticks around.

For me, some of the food at Ohana Island Grill brings a lot of nostalgia. For you, maybe it’ll bring the opportunity to try something new and different, an opportunity I’d suggest taking. Maybe you’ll even find a new favorite spot in Oxford.

Rating: 8.5/10