Keeping it Simple, Scrumptious
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When chef Brian Chan opened Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop in July last year, his goal was to create a brunch concept with food that was both “something I’d like to eat but couldn’t find anywhere else” and crafted, appropriately, from scratch.
Legions of loyal diners have discovered Chan’s take on home-style comfort food at the downtown Honolulu locale on Smith Street within the historic Chinatown district. Chan, who formerly served as chef at nearby Restaurant Epic, decided to focus on breakfast and lunch selections because they allow for ample creativity in the kitchen, while also providing him with freedom to spend more time with family — something that chefs usually have to sacrifice when preparing and executing nightly dinner services.
Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop features a clean, inviting atmosphere complete with relaxing music and photographic art displayed on the walls. The restaurant boasts an open kitchen, so patrons can watch all the heart-of-the-house action in progress. Chan explains that he constructed the menu with “the working” men and women of the nearby bustling downtown business core in mind, and makes it a priority to create a fun, relaxing ambience for both customers and employees to enjoy.
“Everything on the menu is food that I would eat myself,” Chan explains. “We don’t get too elaborate or crazy with our plating — the main thing is that it tastes good. My favorite thing to cook and eat is breakfast food, so this worked out perfectly.”
Chan transports diners back to small-kid times with the aptly named “Milk & Cereal” Pancakes ($10) that headline the breakfast menu available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The dish incorporates banana, berries and a sweet milk syrup surrounding pancakes made from a batter comprised of “pulverized” Frosted Flakes cereal. Stuffed French Toast ($10, limited quantities available) speaks for itself, as the popular breakfast favorite is layered with Molokai Hawaiian sweet bread and filled with Nutella and mascarpone cream, and dressed with strawberries and almonds to complete the sweet treat.
“Instead of maple syrup, we use condensed milk and evaporated milk with some vanilla and salt — it resembles eating a bowl of cereal, only with pancakes,” says Chan of the breakfast favorite.
Scratch incorporates Southern flavors throughout the menu, including those in Smothered Biscuit Sandwich ($12). This popular breakfast item is built with a fluffy biscuit sandwiching a chorizo patty and jalapeno-Cheddar egg scramble, all topped with chorizo gravy and accompanied by smashed taters. Creole Shrimp ‘n Grits ($14) continues the Southern kick with spicy smoked sausage, juicy shrimp, sauteed onions and fried eggs atop a bed of perfectly cooked hominy grits (imported from the Carolinas every other week), all topped with a savory redeye gravy.
Chan’s culinary brilliance shines through via BC Burger ($13, available from 10:30 a.m.), which draws inspiration from a traditional cheese board usually paired with wine. The succulent burger is crafted from Big Island beef and is topped with smoked bacon, griddled apple, melted Brie and honey aioli on a brioche bun, and served with smashed taters.
“We took that cheese board concept and threw it inside a burger,” Chan says of the unique burger concept.
B.L.T. Benny ($12) is another top choice among new and returning diners, as the creation features braised bacon, soft poached eggs, arugula, griddled tomato and truffled hollandaise on a toasted English muffin, served with smashed taters.
“It’s casual dining with great food and excellent service — nothing too ‘high maka maka,'” Chan says. “You can come in shorts, slippers, whatever — we’ll serve you. We’re very relaxed and laid back. You’re going to find food here that’s unique to the island.”
Patrons of Scratch will find ample street parking in addition to reasonably priced stalls at multiple municipal lots within walking distance of the restaurant.
Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop
1030 Smith St., Honolulu
Daily, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.