I'm showing remarkable restraint by not moving to West Seattle, so I can be closer to Ma'ono and it's fried chicken.
The folks behind Spring Hill have joined the ranks of those restaurants that are focusing more on comfort food— smart during a recession. But it isn't always less expensive, as evidenced by the chicken at Ma'ono. It isn't cheap, and it's worth every cent.
On our first visit, we dined with another couple who I like to call our "Fried Chicken Friends" mainly because we are close enough that I don't mind them seeing me attack a platter of fried chicken- which can get frightening.
Ma'ono's version was some of the best I've had. Ever. Reserve your chicken when you reserve your table, as they do run out. You can even get a gluten-free version if you choose, just reserve it 24 hours in advance.
It came to our table perfectly seasoned, the best burnished shade of fried, moist, salty and crunchy. The bird, from Mt. Vernon, Washington, is served with a bright, pungent kimchi on the side, white rice and two dipping sauces. Dipping sauces! Mr. Pants can attest to my love of dipping things in sauces.
Good whisky-based cocktails paired beautifully with our meal. I didn't need our order of Spam Musubi, though many at our table liked their sodium-packed hamminess. Brussels sprouts with bacon and caramelized apples, were autumnal and terrific, and grits with Beecher's cheese went fast, they were so meltingly cheesy and buttery.
This place really is about flavor. You can get a side of spicy-hot kimchi with live-shucked oysters, pork cracklins, or Manapua (Steamed BBQ Pork buns). Chicken not your thing? You can have Rainbow trout, a Chinatown steak or a 1/2 pound burger with special sauce and fries.
A side of carrots were served with goat's milk yogurt, sesame puffed rice, and coriander and coconut chutney. One of these "garnishes" would have been enough, all together it was overkill.
Garlic green beans were delightful, dressed with Szechuan sauce and toasted sesame; as were slightly crunchy stir-fried greens with green garlic chili and lime.
Upscale comfort food has its cost. However, portions are generous and we took home a second meal in the form of our leftovers. Ma'ono is comfort food with gilt edges.
Highlights: FRIED CHICKEN! Cocktails, kimchi, grits.
Disappointments: Banana Cream pie wasn't thrilling; side of carrots overcomplicated.
Mr. Pants: Greasy-fingered, happy Pants