Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Hawaiian Aroma Caffe and The Gallery Waikiki

Restaurant Insider

June 18, 2023

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: MARK GALACGAC

ANNE LEE speaks with Hawaiian Aroma Caffe and The Gallery Waikiki owner JONATHAN ROTMENSCH

The team at Outrigger Resorts & Hotels offers an array of shops and eateries. At Waikiki Beachcomber By Outrigger, you’ll find the one-ofa-kind café called Hawaiian Aroma Caffe and an art gallery, café and bar called The Gallery Waikiki.

Tropics Bowl ($13.95)

I met with the concept creator/ owner Jonathan Rotmensch, who was a famous streetwear fashion designer in Israel before coming to Hawaii in 2007.

Upstairs at Hawaiian Aroma Caffe, the focus is on breakfast, brunch and cocktails. Downstairs at The Gallery Waikiki, you’ll find all of the above, plus nightly live entertainment, morning DJs on weekends, and a variety of eclectic contemporary local art.

Morning Feast ($18.50)

I was able to try an array of delicious breakfast items, including the coffee, which is Jonathan’s unique blend. The custom roast combines old-world Italian methods with the islands’ aloha spirit and has garnered international recognition.

AL: Can you tell me more about this concept and how it started?

JR: The concept started 11 years ago this month with my desire to create something different. When I arrived in Hawaii in 2007, boutique cafés that emphasized quality were rare.

Açaí Waffle ($18.50)

In the past 11 years, we turned from a coffee cart in Ala Moana to a multi-million-dollar company with four prime locations in Waikiki serving thousands of locals and tourists alike every week.

AL: The core of a café is centered on coffee. What makes your blend unique?

JR: We offer a fine blend of estate-grown Guatemalan, Mexican and Sumatran beans. We proudly blend the finest Mexican beans originating in the Mayan highlands of Chiapas with premium Sumatran beans known for their lingering flavors. We take our roast very seriously.

Latte (prices vary)

AL: In addition to the coffee, you have an array of fresh food. Can you tell me what was prepared for us to try?

JR: Today, we tried our Morning Feast ($18.50; add $1.50 to make it gluten free), which is a great source of protein. It’s served with bacon, Portuguese sausage, two eggs, toast, butter, a slice of a pineapple and a fresh salad with croutons.

Our Eggs Benedict ($17.50) is served in a very unorthodox way — the poached egg is served on a sliced everything bagel with our housemade lilikoi hollandaise served with a fresh salad and homemade croutons. You get a choice of ham, turkey, salmon or vegetarian.

Eggs Benedict ($17.50)

Our Tropics Bowl ($13.95, 12 ounces; $15.95, 16 ounces) is one of four ways we serve our açaí bowls. This one is served with hemp and flaxseed granola topped with chopped pineapple, papaya and kiwi, and garnished with almond and coconut shavings, bee pollen and some honey drizzle.

The Carved Pineapple Cocktail (contact for price) had to be good because you didn’t leave me any. You can order any of our cocktails and we can serve it in a fresh pineapple.

Our lattes are always exquisite and don’t need any sugar to enjoy. And last but not least, our Specialty Açaí Waffle ($18.50) is a golden-brown waffle served with crispy granola, a scoop of açaí and an abundance of berries drizzled with honey and bee pollen.

AL: The downstairs location showcases local artists. How did you come up with this concept?

JR: This concept was brought to life out of a genuine passion for art, music and community. We created a place where we would love to hang out at — filled with art, local musicians, live entertainment, a full bar and yummy treats, and no cover charge.

Our daily happy hour at The Gallery Waikiki is from noon to 6 p.m. and features $3 Kona Big Wave beers or $10 with a flat-bread pizza.

We also offer craft cocktails. We are extremely proud of our espresso martini as we get to show the perfect combination of our famous coffee in a cocktail. Beware, it’s pretty addictive.

AL: Not only is this a place to eat and drink, it’s a popular place for events. Can you tell me more?

JR: Every other month we put together a full-on production poolside at the Outrigger Waikiki Beachcomber with a local nonprofit as the beneficiary. From concerts by The Green, Common Kings and Likkle Jordee, to hosting the biggest breakdancing battles in the state to fashion shows, art exhibitions and more.

AL: Are you doing anything special to celebrate your 11-year anniversary?

JR: We’re having a completely free concert on June 23 with Waylon Nihipali. Doors open at 5 p.m. For our live music schedule, check out our Instagram. In July, we will have a free concert with Natural Vibrations and, in August, a free concert with the Rebel Souljahz.

2300 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

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Hawaii's Best