A brunch spot that lives up to the hype

Columns Lite Bites

May 19, 2015

Story By: Yu Shing Ting | Photos by: NATHALIE WALKER

I have to admit, before I even arrived at Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop in downtown Honolulu, my expectations already were high. Since opening last July, the hole-in-the-wall eatery has created quite a buzz around town. So, I was really excited to finally try this new restaurant created by local chef Brian Chan.

From the minute I stepped inside, I was very much impressed. It’s not a large restaurant, but somehow Chan is able to make it feel welcoming and even roomy. The interior, which includes an open kitchen, is simple, modern and clean. The menu evolves each season and features tasty, original dishes that are Chan’s takes on various breakfast and lunch favorites.

For example, BLT Benny ($12), which has been on the menu since the beginning, is similar to typical eggs benedict but with a BLT sandwich twist. The dish consists of a soft poached egg, smoked house-cured bacon, lettuce, griddled tomato, sautéed baby kale and standard hollandaise. It’s served with crispy smashed taters and pickled tomatoes.

Chan also recommends trying Breakfast Strata ($12), which is his take on bread pudding. “People think bread pudding is sweet, but this is more of a savory bread pudding,” he explains. “It’s built the same way you would make bread pudding — eggs, milk; and then we have caramelized onions, fresh goat cheese, organic trumpet mushrooms and baby kale, and we sauté it together and throw it into a custard mixture with day-old bread. We bake that off and cut it into wedges, and then it’s finished with some grated Parmesan Reggiano and served on top of house made tomato basil sauce. We had this for our spring menu and it’ll carry on into the summer.”

Also to be featured on the summer menu, which comes out next month, is Pound Cake French Toast ($9). This sweet breakfast dessert was introduced last week as a special and has been selling so well that Chan says it’ll continue to run as a special most days from now until June, and then it will be on the menu permanently.

“It’s going through the roof,” says Chan. “People think pound cake is very heavy, but it’s actually a very light pound cake because we whip it. It’s very refreshing. We make it with homemade lemon curd, some macerated fresh berries and we whip sour cream, and then we have toasted almonds on top.”

Chan, a 1995 graduate of Mid-Pacific Institute, grew up in the restaurant business and describes his cooking as eclectic. He says the menu at Scratch is globally inspired, and he especially enjoys the flavors of the south. “I try to steer away from Asian cuisine because I grew up with it and there’s so much of it around, especially in this area,” he adds. “So, you’ll very rarely see Asian influences here.”

Scratch is open for breakfast and lunch only (from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily), and Chan says he purposely limited it to these hours because he wanted to be able to spend more time with his children — 4- year-old Connor and 7- year-old Ellie.

But customers are constantly asking him to open for dinner, too. So, he’s planning to do a once-aweek pop-up dinner starting mid-June (more information to come at scratch-hawaii.com). Designed as a social dining event, guests will be served a six-course pre-set dinner. The menu will change weekly, and tickets will cost about $40 per person. The restaurant also is open for private parties and can seat up to 40 people.

Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop

1030 Smith St.


Daily, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.


Honolulu, HI 96817

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best