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First Look: Bakery & Table

In this new Italian-Japanese rooftop dining experience in town, the bakery does things right, but dinner needs work.


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Bakery & Table is all about the bread, and this Italiano flatbread has generous portions of Italian dry-cured meats capicola, mortadella, soppressata and prosciutto.
Photos: Maria Kanai

 

As you walk into Bakery & Table, it’s easy to be seduced by the gorgeous aesthetics: high ceilings, cool-toned brick walls and a floral tile mosaic. It’s basically a gallery showcase for the rows of bread proudly displayed in the center of the room in a glass case. Which makes sense as it used to be the Sub-Zero and Wolf Showroom. 

 

The restaurant is part of a chain of Bakery & Table restaurants in Japan, which started out of Akakura Kanko Hotel in 1937. The bakery has unusual flavors, including the rum raisin stick, the chocolate chestnut danish, honey espresso and more, all ranging from $2 to $3.75.

 

The display case of what Bakery & Table does best.

 

The breads here exceeded expectations. The food? Not so much.

 

The curry bread ($3.75) is the best-seller, and it’s easy to see why. Nestled within the savory, slightly sweet curry roux is a hard-boiled egg, making the bread a surprisingly hefty meal on its own. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it; it’s common in Japanese households to add an egg to curry rice. The soft bread is surrounded by a lovely crispy rice exterior. We also tried the herb tomato chicken bread ($3.25), which sorely needed more sauce and cheese, and is honestly nothing special.

 

Head upstairs after 5:30 p.m. and dinner is available indoors on the second floor. The popular choice is to eat outside on the large rooftop terrace with teal, orange and red hues, mini waterfalls, a bar and more tile mosaics. Outdoor dining in Honolulu has rarely been so romantic.

 

The restaurant has major Italian influences not only in the décor but on the dinner menu, with clear Asian emphasis. Take the special mentaiko (marinated roe) pasta—the kind we’ve come to know and love from Japan. But, like many restaurants that have recently opened here and are owned by Japanese investors, the prices are a tad high. Pasta run $17 to $26 and specialty entrées $24 to $48. Also, be prepared to pay $3 before tip for valet parking.

 

As we sat down, we received free bread—multigrain and rosemary focaccia—from the bakery downstairs. We dipped the two tiny rolls in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Both tasted divine, with subtle flavors and a delicate texture, and we wished for more.

 

The server recommended the Italiano flatbread ($19) and the Jidori arrabiata pasta ($19). We ordered both. Kudos for the flatbread: a delicate, thick crust and generous portions of Italian dry-cured meats capicola, mortadella, soppressata and prosciutto. Even though you only get six individual pieces of flatbread, the gourmet meat topped with baby arugula and Parmesan cheese is filling without being overbearing.  

 

The pasta was underwhelming. The Jidori chicken breast was overcooked and dry, which is unfortunate considering the usual high quality of Jidori chicken. The arrabiata sauce, traditionally a spicy tomato sauce with red chili peppers, had some good kick to it, but the texture was watery. The rest of the toppings included an uneven mix of red peppers, onions, asparagus and mushrooms.

 

Going with looks alone, the atmosphere and bread immediately wow, but so far the dinner itself … meh. We sincerely hope the restaurant’s misses are opening-weeks jitters, and we hope to see more specialty baked goods in the dinner rotation.

 

Bakery hours 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., dinner 5:30 to 10 p.m., 938 Pi‘ikoi St., 592-5555

 

 READ MORE STORIES BY MARIA KANAI

 

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