Get Charcoal Pancakes and Vegetable Piele at Basalt

The upscale restaurant at Dukes Lane in Waikīkī is now serving breakfast and lunch.

Basalt in Dukes Lane Market and Eatery recently launched breakfast and lunch menus featuring unique dishes including these charcoal buttermilk pancakes.
Photos: Catherine Toth Fox


Every restaurant, no matter the size or location, should have something on its menu that you can’t find anywhere else. The competition, especially in Honolulu, is too stiff and restaurants have to find ways to lure patrons. (And having an Instagrammable dish or two doesn’t hurt.)


Basalt, the upscale restaurant in Dukes Lane Market and Eatery in Waikīkī that opened last July, has found its niche, with some dishes playing off its name—basalt is a dark volcanic rock—and others just riffing off classics.


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It launched breakfast service six months ago and lunch just weeks ago with a menu full of interesting dishes: charcoal buttermilk pancakes, vanilla-orange French toast with candied macadamia nut and almond crunch, seared ʻahi and farro and a salad that pairs local goat cheese with roasted beets.


Executive chef Keith Kong, who created the two menus, said these are “standard items with a twist and using local ingredients.”


Executive chef Keith Kong prepares mini versions of his vegetable piele, new to the lunch menu at Basalt.


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Breakfast, which is served from 7 to 10:30 a.m. daily, features more than a dozen items and plates ranging from simple oatmeal topped with fresh fruits ($8) to a decadent loco moco with grilled onions, mushroom gravy and a sunny egg atop bacon fried rice ($14).


The signature dish is the Basalt Charcoal Buttermilk Pancakes ($12), a stack of nearly black pancakes that’s a bit alarming at first. “Don’t be afraid,” Kong says, laughing. “They’re black, but they’re good.” The black color comes from an ultra-fine, high-grade charcoal from Japan, pulverized into a powder so you only get the color, not the charcoal flavor. The volcanolike pancakes are topped with a sauce made from strawberry and guava purées (the lava) and whipped cream with mascarpone cheese (the plume). Get it?


There’s also an omelet stuffed with Sweet Land Farm goat cheese ($12), sautéed kale, tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers and onions, served with country-style potatoes, slices of cantaloupe and grapes. I enjoyed the creamy texture of the goat cheese paired with the cooked veggies, and the golden potatoes were crispy and just salty enough.


The local goat cheese omelet is filled with veggies.


Kong describes the loco moco as “standard,” but I felt differently. This version ($14) features a wagyu beef patty, mushroom gravy and a perfectly cooked local egg on a bed of bacon fried rice with edamame, carrots and Spam. With these high-quality ingredients, this is more like a next-level—and pricey—loco moco. Definitely not standard.


The next dish surprised me; it’s not one you often see on menus anywhere, even in Hawaiʻi. It was a vegetable piele ($16), a traditonal Hawaiian pudding-type dish that uses either ‘uala or ‘ulu mixed with coconut cream or shredded coconut meat. The mixture is wrapped in tī leaves and cooked in an imu, then cooled, sliced and dried in the sun. At Basalt, the piele is layered with cooked kale, beets and locally grown hearts of palm. The layers are pressed into a pan, then steamed for about 45 minutes. This vegan and gluten-free dish was surprisingly filling and delicious.


The vegetable piele is a dish we’ve never seen on a menu before.


Two other dishes we tried from the new lunch menu were the seared ‘ahi and farro ($19) with edamame, cucumber and tomatoes with a soy-jalapeño vinaigrette; and the kālua pork quesadilla ($15) topped with pico de gallo, sour cream and house-made chicharrón.


For dessert, Kong uses calamansi lime (instead of lemon) to make a meringue tart ($8). Something different, he says.


Seared ‘ahi with farro, an ancient grain.


The kālua pork quesadilla features house-made chicharrón.


The beautifully presented calamansi lime meringue tart.


Both breakfast and lunch offer teas curated by The Tea Chest and 100 percent Kona coffee French press. There are five breakfast cocktails including a guava mimosa ($12) and a Kula strawberry-liliko‘i daiquiri ($11). (The bar opens at 6 a.m.)


Dishes are a little pricier than, say, a typical breakfast or lunch spot. But hey, where else are you going to eat charcoal pancakes?


Dukes Lane Market & Eatery, 2255 Kūhiō Ave., (808) 923-5689,