Restaurant Review: The South Rises

Scratch Restaurant Honolulu

Indulge in Southern-inspired brunch in Honolulu’s Chinatown at Scratch Kitchen and Bake Shop.

Text by Jeff Mull | Image by Jonas Maon

First came the bars. Then came the restaurants. Then came the shops. And now come the really, really good restaurants. If the past decade in Chinatown has taught us anything, it’s that this historic side of the city is experiencing change. Granted, Chinatown is not without its blemishes, but big things are happening here. Big, delicious, mouth-watering things. Of the numerous award-winning and progressive restaurants that have set up shop within a few steps of each other on Hotel Street, there’s a small Southern-inspired brunch house called Scratch Kitchen and Bake Shop that’s packing in leagues of hungry fans on a daily basis.

Scratch Restaurant Honolulu Lei

Southern-inspired brunch in Chinatown, you ask? Pass the biscuits! So what makes Scratch so special? First and foremost, it’s the food. Owner and founder Bryan Chan, who is a local boy and calls Chinatown home, has always had an affinity for the cuisine that thrives south of the Mason-Dixon line. “There are so many great new restaurants in Chinatown that are doing some really impressive things,” Chan says. “I’ve always loved Southern cuisine, and you don’t see a lot of it in Hawai‘i, but I know that people really have developed a taste for that type of cooking. … When I see the delighted reaction of someone who’s just tasted our shrimp and grits for the first time, or the chicken-fried deviled eggs, it just makes me feel so good.”

From a design standpoint, the ambiance inside Scratch is quaint, modern, and clean. While it doesn’t have a large dining area, the layout, which features an open-air kitchen, lends itself to a family-type atmosphere—it’s not at all uncommon to see one table casually talking to the next. The breakfast offerings include an array of benedicts, tiramisu pancakes topped with whipped mascarpone, and homemade pastries. Of the multiple must-try eateries in Chinatown on your list, make sure to scratch this one off soon.

Scratch is located at 1030 Smith St. For more information, visit

Scratch Bakeshop Hawaii

Scratch Bakeshop in Honolulu