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Cover Story

A Place Where Brunchers Live Happily Ever After

By Alana Folen Photos By Anthony Consillio
February 8, 2015

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Over time, brunch has revolutionized America’s dining scene. But much too often, the perfect brunch experience has turned into a buffet of endless choices, where you don’t even know where to start and sometimes not knowing when to put down the fork. Luckily, YogurStory brings a fresh revelation to the mid-morning meal by offering a new surge of creativity that shines through in every dish.

Situated on Keeaumoku Street, YogurStory looks like a cozy-yet-chic, modernized cafe plucked straight out of a Korean soap opera. The two-level restaurant is spacious and clean, with warm sunlight beaming in through the glass windows. Like its ambiance and furnishings, the restaurant’s indulgent fare is a breath of fresh air for the dedicated bruncher. However, if we were to go back in time and visit the eatery five years ago, it would be an entirely different story.

“YogurStory started off as a self-serve yogurt shop,” owner Sean Saiki explains. “Inspired by the cafes in Korea, the original owner wanted this to be a spot where people could hang out while eating yogurt and talking story. That’s how the establishment got its name.

“But with such a large space, it was obvious just selling yogurt wouldn’t be enough. Expanding the menu to offer more variety to customers was the way to go,” he says.

Soon enough, YogurStory’s forte was breakfast, brunch and lunch. Dinner service was added later, but now YogurStory solely focuses on what it does best: brunch — dressed up in nuances of Eurasian fusion and island flair.

There are sinfully sweet renditions of pancakes, waffles and French toast. The best-selling Ube Pancakes ($12) are so gratifying, ordering them should be mandatory. These vibrant purple hotcakes made with Okinawan sweet potato and bathed in ube-infused semi-sweet sauce and coconut accents, are enough to excite patrons to further explore the menu. Executive chef Brian Stover and the rest of the kitchen staff also brilliantly conjure up stunners such as Red Carpet Waffles ($10). This distinct interpretation of waffles is red velvet flavored with taro cream cheese dolloped atop — its consistency likened to whipped cream — showered with red velvet cake crumble and coated with chocolate drizzle. A marbled piece of white chocolate perched atop the immaculate waffle is the finishing touch.

In contrast with sweet, the menu hosts a sprawling collection of savory. Prime Rib Skillet ($13) is a new dish worth hoarding. Tater tots lend itself to a crisp, saline crunch and pieces of tender prime rib, zucchini, bell pepper and onion are bathed in hearty white gravy and topped with a sunny-side-up egg. YogurStory’s Hurricane Rice Bowl also has stirred up a whirlwind of positive reviews from new and loyal diners. Priced at $15, this dish speaks volumes in terms of flavor and zest. Not your traditional bibimpap, temperatures will rise, as it features supremely mouthwatering bacon kimchee fried rice played up with Korean vegetables, morsels of tender kabiyaki prime rib and a poached egg. If you can handle the heat, a side of kochujang sauce (Korean-style red pepper paste) is a welcomed accompaniment.

Few restaurants do morning brew quite like YogurStory. Why drink your coffee when you can eat it instead? Espresso Pancake ($12) awakens patrons with five flap-jacks made from espresso bean-infused pancake batter and hazelnut whipped cream. Bedazzled with chocolate drizzle, condensed milk, fresh raspberries and whole chocolate-covered espresso beans, the dish is as eye catching as it is delicious.

“Espresso Pancakes also is a newer dish that we’ve added onto the menu, which went through a revamp in January,” says Saiki. “But of all the recent add-ons, BAE Benedict has gained the most popularity so far.”

In modern-day slang, BAE is the acronym for “Before Anyone Else.” However YogurStory has taken BAE to the next level. “On our menu, BAE stands for ‘Bacon And Eggs,'” explains Saiki.

Priced at $14, BAE Benedict features a grilled English muffin topped with succulent maple-braised pork belly and a poached egg doused with bacon-infused hollandaise sauce. A side of house potatoes complements the dish.

“We’re eager to see our customers’ reactions to the new dishes. Taking their suggestions, tweaking them and adding to their ideas are what we like to do. It helps in the creative process,” says Saiki with a smile.

“With any business comes trial and error. You have to figure out what works, what doesn’t and focus on what needs improvement.”

Brunch just got better, because here at YogurStory — with a plot that consists of a beautiful restaurant, offering food as distinctive as it is electrifying — a happy, fairy tale ending is a given.

YogurStory

815 Keeaumoku St., Ste. 105
942-0505
Daily, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Note: Parking available on both sides of the restaurant.