Jet-setting to brunch heaven
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When Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop owner and executive chef Brian Chan spends time away from the Islands, he loves to soak up different cultures by trying various regional cuisines. Much like having a virtual recipe book stashed away in his mind, he then can tap into the plethora of flavors he’s picked up over the years when finding inspiration for the eclectic brunch items that decorate his seasonal menus.
“The Mainland is such a melting pot; you can find so many different cultures,” shares Chan, who has previously lived in some of the country’s most prominent metropolitan areas, from Las Vegas and Seattle to San Francisco and New York.
One type of cuisine the chef particularly fell in love with over yonder — and thus can be found sprinkled throughout many of his dishes — is good ole’ Southern fare. “I love collard greens, fried chicken, gumbo — anything from the South. For some reason the flavors really appeal to me, and then it’s very hard to find them in Hawaii. So anything that I want to eat that’s not available for me to get, I’ll just make it myself,” he says.
Enter one of the 8-month-old eatery’s mainstays, Cochon de Lait Po’ Boy ($12). Based on a New Orleans classic, the sandwich showcases juicy pork shoulder slow roasted in-house for 12 hours and dressed up with Puerto Rican flavorings such as vinegar, oregano and garlic. Served on a baguette, the pork is enhanced with a Cajun trinity of vegetables — celery, bell pepper and onion — as well as a creole-style condiment prepared with course-grain mustard and a touch of mayonnaise.
Just as the Po’ Boy’s intricate flavors coalesce into one piquant eruption, Chilaquiles ($12) stands out as a divine sampling of savory breakfast items. Stemming from a traditional Mexican breakfast dish, this zesty gluten-free number showcases shredded chicken mixed with spicy chipotle tomato sauce and freshly made corn tortillas. “In Las Vegas, they have it in a lot of places and it’s one of my favorite things to eat for breakfast,” says Chan, who puts his own twist on the dish by adding eggs on top, house-pickled jalapenos, queso fresco, cilantro and lime crema — a magical mix of lime juice and zest, and sour cream.
Aside from entrees inspired by the chef’s travels, every kind of breakfast magic is in store for those who venture to the popular Chinatown brunch spot. Diners can enjoy local flavors here, freshly baked scones and muffins there, and whimsical dishes such as Milk and Cereal Pancakes in between. As the restaurant’s name suggests, items are made from scratch as much as possible, which delivers the mouthwateringly fresh flavors to match the menu’s creativity.
Additionally, Scratch recently unveiled its latest menu updates. Be sure to stop in for The sivlE ($11), a fun new selection inspired by the classic Elvis-sandwich (try spelling sivlE backwards!) combination of peanut butter, banana and bacon. Scratch does the King proud with this re-imagination of the dish, consisting of house-made apple banana bread, creme bruleed bananas and homemade peanut butter gelato. As if that weren’t tasty enough, savory slices of smoked bacon and drizzled salted caramel top it all off.
Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop
1030 Smith St., Honolulu
Daily, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.