ONO? OH YEAH! JAN AND IAN OF POP UP SENSATION LOCO ONO
A couple of weeks ago, we posted our thoughts on a few choices for poké joints around town. Maybe it’s this gloomy weather that’s got us daydreaming about beaches and sunshine, but all the talk about poké really got us thinking, “Where do we go for Hawaiian food in Vancouver?” A quick Yelp search for “Hawaiian” comes back with suggestions for a few poké places and Honolulu Coffee (which kind of makes sense). But from there, things really drop off. The 10th most relevant search result? Uncle Fatih’s Pizza.
Now imagine you don’t have any foodie friends, you have unquestioning belief in Yelp’s search capabilities, AND you’ve for some reason not followed @Teamchomp yet. You’d be missing out on the great Hawaiian unicorn that is Loco Ono. With no fixed location other than the spots they happen to take over on a short-term basis, Loco Ono has been a hit no matter where they’ve chosen to set up shop. Chef/proprietor Jan-Michael Reyes and business partner Ian Everest have recently taken over The Refinery in Downtown Vancouver, serving up Island-inspired fare from Wednesdays to Saturdays through to the end of October. We caught up with Jan-Michael for the inside track on Loco Ono and what drives his passion to be the only name in Hawaiian cuisine that you need to know.
TEAMCHOMP: Can you tell us a little about yourselves and how you guys connected to create Loco Ono?
JAN-MICHAEL: Ian and I met during the Sip take over pop-up back in February of this year. Ian was working for Sip and The Refinery prior, and during our stint at Sip, we quickly realized that we both shared the same passion for Hawaiian and Pacific Rim cuisine.
What is the concept behind Loco Ono and what cuisine are you known for?
Loco Ono is a family-run pop-up restaurant, based around Hawaiian-style comfort food. In Hawaii, you’ll see a strong influence from Asian cuisines such as Filipino, Japanese, Korean and also American. Our vision is “Island inspired, influenced by family experiences”. With a strong emphasis on “family” or “ohana”, which is the Hawaiian word for “Family” or “Extended Family”. We’ve been blessed to have our family and friends all take part in one way or another with the success of our pop-up. Through our travels to Hawaii, my Filipino background and Ian living in Japan for 2 years, all of our experiences have had a great impact on the dishes we’ve been able to create.
What are some of your feature dishes?
Our most popular dishes have definitely been our adobo honey chicken wings, poke, kalua pork, chicken and ube (sweet purple yam – used in many Filipino dishes) waffles and malasadas.
What made you guys go the pop-up shop route and what are some of the pros and cons?
Pros: We’re not committed to one particular location, [so] we can control when and where we “pop-up”, and low costs.
Cons: Having to adapt to the space, equipment and operations to whatever establishment we work in, which can effect the menu choices we make.
We see that you release a lot of mixtapes on social media. How does music inspire or influence your dishes?
Through different types of dining experiences we’ve encountered in our travels to west coast states such as Washington, California and, of course, visiting Hawaii, we’ve found music has played a big part in the fun memories we’ve been able to share with our family, friends and new friends that we meet. Whether it’s island reggae, R&B, hip-hop or old Motown hits, [I’ve] always felt that the music has always complemented the food, and vice versa.
What can we expect from Loco Ono in the near future?
We’re already thinking about next year, and are always looking for ways to bring Loco Ono to the public more frequently. Nothing’s set in stone just yet, but we anticipate 2017 to be a big year for us. Building strong roots with the people we’ve been fortunate to work with – like Ray and Peter of The Refinery – we want Loco Ono to be the go to for Hawaiian style comfort food.
Loco Ono Pop up Kitchen @ The Refinery
1115 Granville St
Hours: Wed-Sat 5pm-late