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First Look: Over Easy in Kailua

This new brunch spot in Kailua boasts unique twists on morning classics with house-made pork sausages, fresh local eggs and creative libations.


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COUPLE NIK AND JENNIFER LOBENDAHN, both Alan Wong's Alums, ARE OPENING OVER EASY, A NEW BRUNCH SPOT, IN KAILUA today.
Photos: Catherine Toth Fox

 

Over Easy in Kailua, which opens today, is everything you want a brunch restaurant to be. Today through Friday this week, though, the restaurant is open for shorter hours, 8 a.m. to noon.)

 

It’s quaint—just 32 seats indoors and a smattering of tables outside—and comfortable. It’s bright and cheery. And the food is outstanding, with clever modifications to brunch classics and a few dishes unique to this restaurant.

 

Oh, and did we mention it serves alcohol?

 

Over Easy occupies the 1,050-square-foot space on Ku‘ulei Road that once was Coconut Grove Music. There are about 30 seats inside and a few tables outside.

 

“This isn’t a turn-and-burn place,” explains Nik Lobendahn, who owns Over Easy with his wife, Jennifer. “We want people to feel like they’re enjoying a meal in our house … We put a lot of heart and soul in this place and we really hope people get it.”

 

SEE ALSO: New Brunch Spot in Kailua Opens Later This Month

 

Breakfast, which is served all day, includes the standard plates—except the eggs are all from OK Farm in Waimānalo, the pork sausages are house-made and the crispy fried potatoes are seasoned with a special spice blend that the owners won’t reveal. Everything here is unique, from the crispy-edged pancakes filled with blueberry cream cheese ($10) to the fried-egg sandwich that uses house-made English muffins, caramelized onions and a spicy aioli ($8).

 

Lunch is served after 11 a.m. and includes an Over Easy burger with roasted garlic butter ($10), with the option to add bacon, avocado, cheddar cheese or a perfectly cooked egg for an additional cost. There’s a quinoa and mixed seed salad ($10) and a coconut-shrimp burger with crisp greens and wasabi cream ($13), too.

 

There’s nothing simple about any of these dishes. Even the Bloody Mary ($9) is made from fresh tomatoes and topped with house-made pickled cucumbers and tomatoes on a skewer.

 

The Bloody Mary, left, and calamansi limeade are two of the unique drinks offered here. The Bloody Mary ($9) is made with fresh tomatoes, celery salt and candied bacon. The limeade ($5) is made with both fresh calamansi and limes with some simple syrup.

 

Take the custard French toast ($13 for a full order, $8 for a half-order). Thick slices of sweet bread are crusted in Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, then soaked in a custard base. The slices are pan-fried, then baked in the oven to a perfect crispness—and until the custard sets. (This dish takes about 15 minutes to make, so be prepared to wait. It’s worth it.) It’s paired with a house-made crème fraîche flavored with blood orange. Honestly, we spaced on the 100-percent maple syrup that’s also served with this—and devoured it enthusiastically. The cinnamon-y cereal crust keeps the toast from getting soggy. One of the tasters admitted she’s not a fan of French toast but loved this version. That says something.

 

The kālua pig hash ($13) features a mix of fried Okinawan and fingerling potatoes mixed with chunks of house-made kālua pork and topped with two local eggs cooked over easy and a pile of lomi tomatoes. Encircling the dish is a green goddess dressing. A forkful of pork, potatoes, egg and tomatoes is hard to top; the balance of salty, smoky and richness is sheer perfection.

 

The custard French toast ($13 for a full order, $8 for half) is crusted in Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal and served with a house-made orange crème fraîche.

 

The kālua pig hash ($13) features a mix of fried Okinawan and fingerling potatoes, house-made kālua pork and topped with two local eggs and lomi tomatoes.

 

One of the most creative dishes—which none of us had seen before—is the potato 'n’ eggs ($13). Thick-cut French bread is stuffed with a sweet tomato jam, then drenched in a creamy potato purée and topped with bacon crumbles and a 7-minute local egg. (There’s also a small salad on the side.) Everything worked, from the surprise sweetness inside the bread to the well-balanced potato purée to the rich egg yolk that tied it all together. “When Nik told me about this dish, I said, ‘You’re crazy, no way,’” Jennifer says. “But when he made it and I tried it, it was great. We knew this was going on [the menu].”

 

Another unusual dish is the brunch bowl ($11, $13 with candied bacon). An oversize bowl is filled with toasted slices of house-made sourdough bread (the yeast of which is from Jennifer’s own starter, smuggled back from San Francisco years ago), two soft-boiled local eggs, a dollop of tomato jam, slices of avocado, spinach and creamy, whole-milk yogurt that’s made in-house. You mix up all the ingredients bibimbop-style and spoon the mixture on the buttery slices of bread. “It’s super, super unique and so fresh and light,” Nik says about his favorite dish on the menu. “You can taste the quality of everything in that dish, and that’s why I love it.”

 

The potato n’ eggs ($13) dish has thick-cut French bread stuffed with a sweet tomato jam, then drenched in a creamy potato purée and topped with bacon crumbles and a 7-minute local egg.

 

Nik’s favorite menu item is the brunch bowl ($11, $13 with candied bacon), which boasts slices of house-made sourdough bread, two soft-boiled local eggs, a dollop of tomato jam, slices of avocado, spinach and creamy, whole-milk yogurt that’s made in-house. You mix up all the ingredients bibimbop-style.

 

Not my favorite dish on the menu—although one of the tasters couldn’t stop eating it—is the Kailua eggs ($12), a bowl of rice, chopped Portuguese sausage and two sunnyside-up eggs on a bed of dried cabbage and sprouts. A house-made dashi of cabbage and bacon—as opposed to bonito flakes and konbu—is poured over everything, giving this a congee feel. It’s a delicate dish that’s warm and comforting, like something you’d eat when you’re sick. What amazed me was the effort and details that go into such a seemingly simple dish: The broth is made from cabbage, bacon, Sriracha and sherry vinegar, and balancing those flavors was tricky for Nik. The bacon could be too salty, the cabbage dried out too much. “The broth is everything in this dish,” he says.

 

The only lunch item we sampled was the fried chicken sandwich ($11), sure to be one of the most ordered items on the menu. Chicken breast is brined, then soaked in buttermilk and cut into slits so there’s more fry area. (Meaning there are more crispy parts to the chicken. Genius!) The fried chicken is served on a French roll with a crunchy slaw and a spicy Asian aioli that had a definite kick to it.

 

The Kailua eggs ($12) is all about the cabbage-and-bacon broth, which is poured over a bowl of rice, chopped Portuguese sausage and two eggs. “It has the feeling of Mom’s miso soup,” Nik says.

 

A unique take on a classic chicken sandwich, this version ($11) is extra crispy and served on a French roll with a crunchy slaw and a spicy Asian aioli.

 

The couple, both Alan Wong’s alums, encourages people to linger here over liliko‘i mimosas, calamansi limeade or a fresh cup of Chadlou’s roast coffee a block or two away. That’s how you’re supposed to enjoy brunch.

 

There’s street parking and metered parking in a nearby structure for up to five hours (at 75 cents per hour)—though I doubt the restaurant’s lack of dedicated parking stalls will deter people from coming here. The food, alone, is worth walking the extra blocks.

 

And you’ll appreciate the walk back after that meal.

 

Over Easy, 418 Ku‘ulei Road, #103, Kailua, open 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, no reservations, 260-1732, overeasyhi.com

 

READ MORE STORIES BY CATHERINE TOTH FOX

 

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