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).
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.
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.
Every now and then we all need a little sweet treat. At MoDo (inside of Mitsuwa Market at the International Market Place), you can experience the mochi donut, made popular in Japan. I’m seeing mochi donuts more often in recent month at bakeries throughout Hawaii, but based on experience, MoDo tastes the most authentic to the ones that I’ve had in Japan. I’m fairly basic when it comes to my mochi donut needs, I tend to go with either chocolate or strawberry…both highly recommended if you visit MoDo. Pick up a few for me while you’re there.
Herringbone Waikiki is as imaginative with its menu as it is Instagram friendly. You’ll want to take a photo of everything you see and taste at this International Market Place dining establishment. The Herringbone experience is one for all of the senses to enjoy. They’ve recently started to serve weekend brunch, and I think they’ve nailed it. And by the way…the weekend (at Herringbone) begins on Aloha Fridays…so plan accordingly.
Nestled along the pristine Kohala Coast on the Island of Hawaii, the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel is a wonderful choice for those looking to mix the luxury that Kona is known for with Hawaiian history, adventure, and delicious delights. Of course, you could always do what we did for part of the trip, and just lounge at the pool and relax at the Mauna Lani Spa.