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From Scratch

Cover Story

September 6, 2020

Story By: Nicole Monton | Photos by: MARK GALACGAC

(From left) Scratch Kitchen’s Gary Chen, Brandon Mezurashi, John Martin Jr. and Rian Mokiao-Lee are ready to serve customers with excellent takeout options.

It’s been a successful year for Scratch Kitchen under the leadership of owner Gary Chen, who took over the biz back in July 2019.

“We tried to stay as close to the original Scratch concept as possible,” assures Chen, who has kept a number of fan faves on the menu like the famous ‘Milk N’ Cereal’ Pancakes ($14).

This signature dish is one of the most popular not only for its excellent confectionery flavor profile, but also its penchant for easy sharing. Fluffy pancakes are topped with bananas, berries, a special milk syrup and cereals from your childhood for a bit of nostalgia in every bite. That sentiment of loving food and the emotions they evoke is something Chen knows something about.

“I’m a foodie; I love to eat,” he adds. His all-time favorite Scratch dish is the Grandmas Fried Pork Chop Pasta ($22), which features a 10-ounce bone-in fried pork chop that’s marinated in a secret family sauce overnight. The fettuccine is tossed in a garlic lemon sauce with capers, and the entire meal is topped off with Parmesan cheese and served alongside sautéed broccoli and cherry tomatoes.

“This is a taste from my childhood memory,” says Chen, who grew up in Los Angeles.

Pretty Boy Wrap ($16)

With a Southern influence resonating strongly across the menu, there’s something for everyone from the Creole Shrimp N’ Sausage Grits ($18) to Spicy Southern Fried Chicken N’ Waffles ($17). The former is a gluten-free compilation that highlights sautéed garlic shrimp and andouille sausages that are served with bell peppers, onions, red eye gravy, two sunny side up eggs and a true Southern staple: grits

“We’re one of only one or two restaurants that serve grits on the island,” Chen says. “In this dish, we also have a red eye gravy that’s made with coffee. It’s a very popular breakfast item in the South, like in New Orleans.”

Brulee’d French Toast ($14)

Those wanting a salty-and-sweet combination can opt for the latter Spicy Southern Fried Chicken N’ Waffles that’s accompanied by a spicy chili glaze, jalapeños and pickled onions. Add two eggs for just $2. Or, get the Cider Braised Pork Belly & Apple Pasta ($22), which is a perfect combination of sugar, spice and everything nice.

Fans of pops of color and bursts of flavor can try the Pinky Pasta ($26), known for its elegant rosy hue, that has at its base an exceptional mentaiko (pollock caviar) cream sauce and sautéed wild mushrooms. There’s also an option to add grilled chicken breast ($5) or grilled jumbo shrimp ($6).

Since taking the helm at Scratch, Chen and executive chef Brandon Mezurashi have also added a handful of new items that have been a huge hit with customers, including the gluten-free Pretty Boy Wrap ($16) that comes with heart of palm, pico de gallo, tempura black beans, onions, avocado, mixed greens, bean sprouts, eggplant and a three chili salsa all in a spinach tortilla. There’s also a Blackened Ahi Salad ($18) that’s tossed with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and avocados in a sesame seed dressing.

Creole Shrimp N’ Sausage Grits ($18)

Whether new or tried-and-true, everything on the menu falls in line with Scratch’s calling to offer its customers nostalgic elevated fare at reasonable prices.

Scratch Kitchen is only open for takeout at this time, and welcomes phone orders and requests through DoorDash, Grubhub and Bite Squad.

Brunch So Hard

While Scratch Kitchen is closed for dine-in service, you can still enjoy a classic brunch at home with all the fixings. Aside from myriad brunch-approved dishes on the menu — we recommend the ‘Milk N’ Cereal’ Pancakes ($14) and Spicy Southern Fried Chicken N’ Waffles ($17) — the restaurant also has cocktails ready to go, including its Kim Chee Bloody Mary ($13), Guava Picker ($11) and Mix Your Own Mimosa ($10). Find a full menu online at scratch-hawaii.com.

When Life Gives You Lemons

Craft cocktails highlight the drinks menu at Scratch Kitchen, but the restaurant also is home to a line of exclusive fresh-squeezed lemonade, courtesy of Lemon Supply. Currently available for takeout are Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy (the original lemonade), Yuzu, Li Hing and Raspberry flavors — all organic to boot! Keep up with what’s on the menu by following Lemon Supply on Instagram or Facebook (@lemonsupply1975).

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