Savoring unique Southern fare
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Stepping into Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop and out of the busy bustle from Smith Street is a complete change in atmosphere. Hanging lights brighten up the quaint restaurant, which surprisingly fits a good number of tables and chairs. There also is a counter bordering the open kitchen, where owner and chef Brian Chan can be seen working with his staff, tweaking recipes and maintaining his hands-on approach to cooking.
Almost reaching two years in business, Scratch delivers a Southern dining experience like no other in Hawaii. When asked why he chose Southern cooking, Chan explains, “There’s a lot of Asian food in Hawaii. I grew up in a Chinese restaurant and ate a lot of Chinese food growing up. I kind of wanted to bring something different to the table and do something unique.”
After traveling, Chan fell in love with the cuisine from New Orleans, adopting the simple, comforting feel of the fare and its Creole and Latin influences for his restaurant. Such flavors are evident in the eatery’s most popular dishes, like Creole Shrimp n’ Grits ($14).
For this recipe, Chan uses South Carolina stone-ground grits, which are flown in weekly. The creamy texture and taste of the renowned Southern grain is balanced out by the explosive flavor of Kauai shrimp and locally made Andouille sausage. A red-eye gravy makes the meal, however, as the combination of drippings and black coffee put this item at the top of customers’ list of Scratch Kitchen & Bakeshop favorites. “I’ve been threatened that if this dish was ever taken off the menu, I’d be murdered,” Chan says jokingly.
All threats aside, Chan makes sure to keep Creole Shrimp n’ Grits on the menu, as well as BLT Benny ($13). Two halves of a fluffy English muffin are loaded with sauteed kale — instead of lettuce — smoked bacon, a charred tomato and a soft-poached egg. To top off the “Benny,” Chan whips up a truffle hollandaise sauce and adds crispy smashed “taters” on the side.
Scratch not only is the perfect brunch spot, but is open for dinner as well with a tapas-style menu on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Also enjoy the restaurant’s recently launched spring menu, featuring items such as muffaletta (or sometimes muffuletta) and pork adobo sandwiches. There are many other winning dishes to choose from on the revamped menu, as well as some old favorites, too.
Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop
1030 Smith St., Chinatown
Brunch: Wednesday-Monday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., closed Tuesday; dinner: Thursday-Saturday, 5:30-9 p.m.