It’s Always Better With Bacon
If there’s one thing that brings food-enthusiasts together in the whole wide wondrous world of devilishly delicious foodie obsessions, it would have to be a shared love for crispy, fatty, salty strips of bacon — on anything and everything.
Like many of you, I grew up eating bacon, and the smell of it on the frying pan instantly draws up nostalgic memories of childhood bliss. And like some of you, at least, I am guilty as charged when it comes to subscribing to the philosophy that everything is better with bacon — and by golly! Why not dip it in dark chocolate, drizzle some maple syrup over it and put it on top of a donut? Those salty-sweet combos are heavenly! Or better yet, let’s wrap it around absolutely everything and stick it in the deep fryer — winning!
Some may associate America’s fixation on bacon with the overindulgent side of our food culture, while others think it’s the tastiest thing since sliced bread. Regardless of which side you chew on, there’s no denying that bacon has been transformed from a mere fixture in our breakfasts and BLT sandwiches to the holy grail of foodie perfection — even being used by today’s chefs as a way to earn their chops and show their creativity … what can you do with bacon?
At Dining Out, we definitely wear the “bacon fanatic” label proudly, and here are some of the dishes we can’t live without:
When talking to Brian Chan, owner and head chef of brunch haven Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop, one thing’s clear: He knows his pork, and he loves his bacon.
He cures his own slabs for select dishes on the menu, and while his offerings change with the seasons, you can be sure there’ll always be a bacon-something to look forward to.
“It’s the fattiness and the smokiness, and I love smoky and salty flavors. Bacon has it all,” he says.’‘
On his current summer menu, “The Elvis” French Toast ($12) is inspired by The King’s famously favorite sandwich combo of bananas, peanut butter and bacon. Chan’s version is best described as it’s eaten: That is to say, first, cut into thick, fluffy slices of Punaluu sweet bread, being sure to go all the way through, passing slices of peanut butter-covered banana and bacon along the way. Then, take your forkful and swirl it around in the ooey gooey bacon-banana caramel sauce – made in-house with banana and bacon bits as well as bacon fat, not just butter (can I get a hallelujah?).
Before devouring the bite, break off a piece of the crispy rasher on top, then go for it! You’ll see for yourself the goodness I’m talking about.
On the specials board, there’s Bacon-wrapped Lamb Chops ($16) to get excited about as well. And if you think lamb doesn’t sound like a breakfast food, just wait until you have it wrapped in crispy brown strips and served in a skillet with garlic rice, sunny-side-up eggs and Carolina slaw. I’m positive you’ll change your mind.
Like I said, Chan puts his own magic touch on pork belly (the cut used for bacon) for some of his dishes, such as Cider Braised Pork Belly & Apple Pasta ($15). A slice thicker than your average bacon strip is cured in-house and then braised (as opposed to being smoked like bacon). The result is melt-in-your-mouth pork with a caramelized crisp around the edge. This meat is mixed with wide strands of hand-cut pappardelle pasta, jalapeno, blue cheese and egg yolk, all accented with a hint of apple for a complex and irresistible blend of flavors.
And folks, these are just some of the bacon creations found at Scratch.
Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop
1030 Smith St., Chinatown
BACON AND WAFFLES
Shiro’s Saimin Haven is best known for its more than 60 varieties of saimin, which have become an integral part of Hawaii’s culinary landscape for more than 40 years. It goes without saying that everyone should visit the Aiea eatery first and foremost to slurp up some savory saimin, complete with fresh noodles, house-made wonton and a clean and pure, yet very flavorful, broth. But while you’re at it, it’s worthwhile to save room for bacon.
In addition to its menu of saimin, Shiro’s offers a world of cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner, touching on Hawaiian, Filipino, Korean and other flavors in its varied selections. When it comes to bacon, you can have it straight up with eggs and all the fixings for breakfast, or you can be a little more adventurous with my personal favorite way to start the day: Bacon Belgian Waffle ($9.40).
According to Bryce Fujimoto, general manager and grandson of late founder Franz Shiro Matsuo, he was inspired to add the dish to the menu after seeing a similar recipe featured on television. At Shiro’s, the fun breakfast dish starts with a standard Belgian waffle batter that’s beautified with three crunchy ribbons of bacon. As you can see from the photo to the right, the beloved pork actually bursts out of the waffle.
“The bacon is cooked into the waffle batter, so the bacon is in the middle of the waffle when it comes out,” explains Fujimoto.
The benefit to this? “Essentially, there’s bacon in every bite,” he answers.
That’s what us foodies like to hear, but it gets even better. The perfectly fluffy waffle serves as a great base for the bacon flavor to pop, but the kitchen plays up the strength of any salty-sweet combo involving bacon by adding a whopping pile of whipped cream on top — not to mention more bacon. If you throw some maple syrup into the mix, this dish is unstoppable.
All things bacon aside for a moment, Fujimoto, who also oversees catering operations, reminds readers that with graduation season in full swing, the company’s catering department has been quite busy. So if you’d like to add some Shiro’s pizazz to your next celebration, be it a graduation or birthday party, be sure to get your orders in as early as possible.
Shiro’s Saimin Haven
Waimalu Shopping Center
98-020 Kamehameha Hwy., Aiea (Also in Ewa Beach);