What is a gastropub? These days, I’m not too sure. Early on, though, when a pub went from just serving beer to serving fanciful takes on traditional dishes, they were said to have morphed into a gastropub. Nowadays, the term gastropub is synonymous with establishments that serve high-end beer along with creatively thought out dishes. Whether they started out as just a pub…well, that’s no longer a requirement. Enter The Brilliant Ox, the latest gastropub to hit Oahu, in the old Pearl Ultra Lounge space in Ala Moana Center.
We first visited Scratch Kitchen more than three years ago when they were located in Downtown, Honolulu. They’re no longer at their original location, instead, they’ve moved into new digs at the South Shore Market at Ward Village. They may have moved, but you can still expect to find some of their most popular dishes. Also, as you salivate through the photos, do keep in mind that the menu at Scratch is seasonal…and so some of the items that you see below may no longer be offered.
I first tasted Nitro Cold Brew (NCB) on a coffee crawl through New York’s East Village with a friend of mine as my guide. That friend also happened to be a lead barista at Third Rail Coffee, a popular indie coffee shop in New York City’s Greenwich Village. I had my first taste of NCB at one of ours stops and I was utterly confused and captivated. I immediately explained to my friend that this was like no coffee I’d ever had. Instead, with its thick mouthfeel and foamy (yet creamy) head, it tasted similar to Guinness…yes, the beer. It took a few years, but NCB has really started to become a trend in indie coffee shops throughout the main island of Oahu. Let’s sample some of the options, but do keep in mind that they were all ordered black (as coffee should be).
The Waikiki Aquarium was always one of my favorite places to visit when I was a child. On any given day, my dad would often bring both me and my younger sister to either the zoo or the aquarium. I always preferred the aquarium because of the jelly fish and the air conditioning. Now that I have a child of my own, I am finding joy in sharing the experiences that I enjoyed in my youth with my son.
I’ve visited Osaka on a handful of occasions, but I typically spend most of my time exploring the lively “gastronomist’s town” of Dotonbori. This most recent visit, though, we ended up staying near the Shinsekai area, a part of old Osaka that was built before World War I to represent the coming of a new world full of innovation and technology. The northern end of Shinsekai was made to resemble Paris, while the southern end was inspired by New York’s Coney Island. With this in mind, don’t be thrown off by the Tsutenkaku Tower, an Eiffel Tower lookalike. One of the main attractions of Shinsekai are the many Kushikatsu restaurants. We tried the most famous, Kushikatsu Daruma.
What was old is new again. In 2016, the then Pacific Beach Hotel underwent a massive $100+ million redevelopment. The complete makeover involved all 800+ hotel rooms and included all public spaces. The fruits of this investment was partially unveiled in late 2017 when the hotel was rebranded and reimagined as the Alohilani Resort. What can you expect? A modern and contemporary vibe that evokes calming relaxation, or, as they like to call it, Aloha Chic.
Every year we set out to capture the first sunset of the new year. This year was no different. The first sunset of 2018 was cool, calm, and collected.
Tucked away on the second floor of the reimagined Alohilani Resort is Waikiki’s newest brunch experience, Lychee. During a recent stay at the Alohilani, we were invited to experience the extensive brunch buffet. You’ll find the usual suspects, including eggs, sausages, and baked goods. Beyond that, expect a variety of seasonal fruits like rambutan and mango, seafood including sashimi, opihi, taegu prawns, and snow crab legs, a prime rib carving station, cuts of bone marrow, and even a milk tea and boba bar.