Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Chicken & BrisketRestaurant Insider
July 24, 2022
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO
ANNE LEE speaks with Chicken & Brisket owner/operator MATTHEW TOMITA and chef/owner NOLAN WEST
There’s fried chicken, and then there’s Chicken & Brisket’s fried chicken, which is brined for 24 hours. These golden pieces of yumminess are crispy and juicy, full of flavor with each bite.
Owner/operator Matthew Tomita and chef/owner Nolan West come from years of experience in the restaurant industry — they met while working for Chef Mavro for 16 years in the early 2000s. Fast-forward to the pandemic, and these friends had the opportunity to create elevated comfort food that started as a necessity but today has grown a huge following and demand for their chicken. The menu has a wide variety of made-to-order, from-scratch options with lots of flavor and big portions. We can’t forget about the brisket that’s out of this world and a bit gourmet with the touch of microgreens featured in the salads.
In honor of National Chicken and Waffles Day July 30, they have created a new menu item just in time to celebrate. The Chicken and Waffles ($15.95) is available for a limited time through Aug. 31. I was able to get a sneak peek of this dish and sample some other popular items, while learning more about the talent these two owners have incorporated into this restaurant.
AL: How did Chicken and Brisket get its start?
NW: One of our friends had a bar concept in this location and needed a food establishment to operate, so Matt and I opened up a ghost kitchen. We offered our fried chicken and brisket plates that customers could order online and take out. With the growing demand for our dishes, we took over the restaurant and our dine-in brick-and-mortar concept was born.
AL: Tell me more about the special Chicken and Waffles on the menu.
NW: We decided to create this dish in honor of Chicken and Waffles Day. It has our famous classic fried chicken, served with our housemade buttermilk waffle, and topped with guava butter, pan-seared bacon, micropea tendrils and lilikoi honey. This will launch July 24.
AL: What else is popular on the menu?
NW: Our Chinese Chicken Salad ($14.25) is our take on the classic, served on a bed of romaine lettuce and cabbage, topped with char siu, carrot, cilantro, peanuts, crispy noodles, pan-seared chicken thighs, scallions, crushed sesame and Island Roots microgreens, with a soy vinaigrette dressing.
The bestselling Brisket Plate ($21.95) is a half-pound of our house brisket, smoked for eight hours with our special house rub. We use both the flat and the point parts of the brisket, which results in juicy meaty flavorful bite. It’s so tender, you don’t even have to chew. It’s paired off with our sweet, tangy housemade barbecue sauce, which has a hint of spice. This comes with two sides: mac salad, rice, mac and cheese corn, coleslaw or our new biscuit with guava butter. All items can be ordered a la carte.
We created a spicy pork belly “Bahn Mi” ($16.49) that’s topped with marinated bean sprouts and kimchi, a bit of mayo, fresh cucumbers, cilantro, jalapeños, and pickled papaya to add a little sweetness and acidity. It’s served with salad — romaine lettuce, wild rice, tomatoes, cucumber, sliced carrot, Island Roots microgreens and papaya seed vinaigrette.
We have had many requests for desserts, so we are featuring Matt’s recipe: a heart-shaped matcha molten lava cake ($12.50).
AL: What are the housemade dipping sauces?
MT: In the cool and creamy category: buttermilk ranch, cilan tro-jalapeño aioli, teri mayo and mayo. Sweet: ketchup, teri sauce and sweet barbecue. Spicy: Buffalo, spicy ranch, Sriracha ketchup, sweet Hawaiian chile sauce and Buffalo cream. Tangy: house vinaigrette and sesame dressing. When you order any of our fried chicken, it comes with a complimentary dipping sauce of your choice, and additional sauces are $1.50 each.
AL: What is one of your popular signature cocktails?
NW: Asian Persuasion ($12.50) was created by Matt. It has Korean pear purée and infused rosemary simple syrup, and shaken with vodka and served in a martini glass — topped with fresh blueberries. We also offer an assortment of draft beer that you can order by the pint or pitcher, as well as bottle varieties, and seltzers.
AL: Tell me more about the Island Roots microgreens in your salads.
MT & NW: Our name Island Roots stems from the local roots established here on the islands. The pride we have in our roots translates into the product we grow, nurture and bring to your tables. To give back to the community we are proud to donate a percentage of contributions each month to a member in the hospitality community in Hawaii.
You can order our popular Jimbo’s Anti-Cancer Mix with radish, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi and more. This was created to honor our friend James “Jimbo” Okano, who passed away in January 2020 after battling cancer. He left behind his parents, two brothers, and a wife and 3-year-old son, JJ. We wanted to ensure that JJ grows up knowing his dad was loved and respected by his fellow peers in the restaurant community. If you want to donate and contribute, visit hiislandroots.com/s/stories.