Aloha, Foni’s

Eating at this Hawaiian grill is no luau, but it offers some bang for the buck.
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Posted May 2, 2012 by MATTHEW MCGOWAN in Eats
The portions are massive at Foni’s, as the Katsu Chicken (left) and Loco Moco indicate. Lee ChastainThe portions are massive at Foni’s, as the Katsu Chicken (left) and Loco Moco indicate. Lee Chastain

Foni’s Island Grill, a year-old Hawaiian food joint tucked into a small suite at the end of a divey strip mall in Euless, should post a sign above its entrance: “Abandon all hope for greens, all vegetarians who enter here.”

Even pescetarians — folks who don’t eat land animals but love them some fish — will find only a couple of options on this family-owned restaurant’s somewhat limited menu. There’s the fish ’n’ chips, and there’s the seafood platter. Everything else either clucked or mooed at some point.

But if you crave a mound of land  animal, then this understated little standalone has you covered. And covered well.

Just be sure to lower your brow before entering. Foni’s does not, by even the most generous standards, offer much in the way of gourmet. Its plates are cheap. They’re greasy. They’re wholly unhealthy. They’re massively portioned. And they’re mostly good.

The blue-collar vibe begins before you even walk in the door. The array of cloudy floor-to-ceiling windows on the shop’s facade should give you a pretty good glimpse of what you’re getting into: paper napkins, plastic forks, and no tablecloths.

Inside is every bit as spartan and charmless as the exterior suggests. The kitchen and counter occupy most of the space’s limited square-footage, making for a tiny dining area, even by strip mall-restaurant standards. Foni’s offers only three tables, which is OK because the joint does mostly take-out orders. The kitchen radiates quite a bit of heat, and frankly the tables could use a good wipe-down.

There are no appetizers on offer, so my dinner date (a pescetarian, no less) and I just dived into the entrées. She ordered the seafood platter. I opted for the combo plate and the Katsu chicken. We shared an Otai drink while we waited about 20 minutes for our food. The Otai, a nifty Polynesian fruit juice smoothie made with pineapple and watermelon, was fantabulous — smoothly textured with chunks of watermelon that lent it an agreeable natural sweetness.

We had emptied the Styrofoam cup by the time our entrées landed on the front counter, also in Styrofoam. Our chef pointed out which plate was which, at which point I discovered just how enormous the portions are. The lids on the takeout boxes, particularly on the combo plate’s, barely closed over their respective mounds of food.

All three plates came with macaroni salad (dressed up mac ’n’ cheese) and “greens” (ranch-drowned shredded lettuce and carrots). Again, vegetarians beware.

The meat combo was by far the most gut-busting of the bunch. And the most disappointing. The plentiful strings of roast beef and chunks of chicken on a bed of white rice lacked any particular zing. It was exactly the sort of food you can get at any mall food court. The chicken was a bit chewy, and too much fat sagged off the beef. Neither smacked of any particular flavor, a huge letdown when considering the potential spunk of a cuisine as colorful as Hawaiian.

Oh, well. The other two dishes delivered a bit more spark. Foni’s seafood platter consisted of two lightly breaded, fried fish fillets and a handful of shrimp, also on a bed of white rice and served with the two sides. The mystery fish itself wasn’t anything special, just a couple of bland, processed white fillets. But the plate’s handful of coconut-breaded shrimp delivered an honest-to-goodness taste of the South Pacific. These little critters had clearly spent some time in the freezer, but they were expertly cooked, crunchy, and packed a coconut punch.

If anything will bring me back to Foni’s for another meal, it’s the Katsu chicken, a yummy, succulent breast, served with the ubiquitous rice and sides. The bird itself, generously breaded and fried, tasted much better than its combo-plate counterpart (and wasn’t nearly as chewy). The accompanying Katsu sauce really complemented the tender meat. Imagine a sweet barbecue sauce with delightful hints of Worcestershire sauce and unicorn laughter, and you’ve got Katsu.

No desserts here, though, so don’t expect to round out the meal with any traditional Hawaiian sweets. Eh, who am I kidding? There probably wouldn’t be any room left over, anyway, not after these Michael Phelps-portioned plates.

With a tab totaling just $26 for a bottle of water, a cup of Otai, and three entrées that packed several day’s worth of calories, you can’t get much more bang for your dining buck, even if some of the dishes fall short of what you might actually find in the Aloha State.

 

Foni’s Island Grill

603 N Main St., Euless. 817-803-4908. Closed Sun, 11am-8:30pm Mon-Thu and Sat, 11am-midnight Fri.

All major credit cards accepted. No alcohol.

Combo plate ……… $7.99

Katsu chicken …… $6.99

Seafood plate …… $7.99

Otai …………………. $2.00

 


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