The Nook Neighborhood Bistro: A New Brunch Spot
Pineapple pancakes (left) and mochiko chicken and mochi waffles
Complaints about Honolulu not being a brunch town have given way to the sounds of cornflake French toast and ricotta hotcake face-stuffing.
Call it the great brunch boom of 2014. Just this year, six new breakfast spots have opened: Goofy Cafe, Bills, and Koko Head Cafe, plus Nook, in an appropriately nook-ish area of University, Tucker and Bevvy: Breakfast on Kapahulu, and Scratch: Kitchen and Bake Shop, which just opened last week downtown. Throw in the new Liliha, and you could eat at a new breakfast place every day of the week if you wanted to.
At least that's what we've been doing. Our latest stop: Nook, where Kiss My Grits used to be, tucked into a parking lot behind Puck's Alley.
The menu is short and sweet and fun. Like the newer brunch spots, it breaks out of the usual eggs-Benedict-and-pancakes rut with creative comfort food, the best example being the mochiko chicken and mochi waffles. I can't think of a more awesome Hawaii food mashup since loco met moco. Crispy, juicy chicken, matched with crispy, chewy waffles, all drizzled with maple syrup—there was a minor kerfuffle at the table for the last bite.
Then there's an open-face sandwich of thick-sliced pork belly, tomatoes and mashed avocado, served with a pickled pineapple spear. The seasoning and flavors are so perfect that it seems a shame to add anything else, but try a splash of the house made hot sauce—I'd put it in the hot sauce hall of fame (aka my fridge) if Nook sold it.
If you must have eggs Benedict and pancakes, Nook offers them, too. I've never seen a pancake I didn't order—here, it's a fluffy whole wheat pancake with caramelized pineapple (yum!) and caramel sauce. It could use some maple syrup to offset a bit of the dryness, but the pineapple jam on the table does wonders.
Pineapple jam, pickled pineapple, house made hot sauce: Nook is just like its name, full of hidden, delightful little surprises.
Brunch items $6 to $14
Open Tuesday through Sunday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
1035 University Ave., 942-2222, thenookhonolulu.com