Restaurant Review: The Nook Neighborhood Bistro


Kimberly Oshiro, Contributing Writer


Kimberly Oshiro, Contributing Writer

Wandering through Puck’s Alley across the street from the Raising Cane’s will lead you to a hidden gem. Within the confines of a cramped and oddly shaped parking lot, “the nook neighborhood bistro” greets pedestrians with a storefront made to look like the porch to someone’s house; potted air plants arranged on every blue roof post with street lamps fixated on the posts in front of the door. Free hanging light bulbs illuminate tables and chairs under the roof’s protection. It makes for a cool, breezy dining area, but if you decide to sit there, do consider the unsightly view of the parking lot. Walking in, dark wooden floors contrast the natural sunlight shining in through two big arched windows. Chatters from nearby conversations, clanging of dishes, and sizzling of pans echo throughout the small space. Potted plants hang decoratively from a window painted onto the wall. Judging by the aesthetic, it’s safe to assume that this place is more healthy than your average plate lunch, and probably stacks up its prices. Although more on the expensive side, all ingredients are sourced from Hawai’i and feature a unique and creative approach on classic dishes.


Opening the menu, a variety of drinks and meals with rather adventurous titles overwhelm the pages, just waiting to be picked. You can enjoy a refreshing cup of iced tea, or sip on “contagion persuasion,” whatever that means. Luckily the menu also provides descriptions. Choose a meal ranging from lilikoi cheesecake pancakes to a spicy chorizo burger, if you’re willing to pay about $13 to $15 for it (depending on what and how much you order, of course). 

Although everything seems has an interesting name, indicating some kind of twist something as simple as “grilled cheese” still packs its own surprises. As the dish is set down, don’t be surprised to find your eyes gaze over an elegantly plated sandwich next to a salad proportioned perfectly 1:2 on the plate. This isn’t your classic grilled cheese with orange goo oozing out from the sides of the sandwich. On the first bite, a strong savory aroma of blue cheese immediately fills the nose, but thankfully the sweetness of the raisins buffer the intensity. The pecan and macadamia nut butter enhance the softness of the sandwich into a texture similar to pesto itself. The side salad’s simplicity accompanies the complexity of the sandwich. The mound of romaine lettuce, onions, and spinach doesn’t get drowned out by the tartness of the balsamic vinegar drizzled lightly atop, even when the fork reaches the bottom of the plate. Underneath the salad also lies a couple leaves of mint to refresh your palate after a satisfying meal. Although, $13.50 may be a little over my budget for what you get.

If a blue cheese sandwich isn’t your thing, consider something more toned down like the “club,” which is surprisingly simpler than the grilled cheese. The plating is exactly the same as the grilled cheese, except the contents of the sandwich change. Not exactly worth the $15 for a plate exactly the same as the grilled cheese, but it’s delicious, that’s for sure. A satisfying crunch of the bread meets a soft spongy center. The tomato under a thick layer of lettuce freshens up the mouth, countering the strong savory bacon before reaching the grilled chicken. Honey mustard sauce adds sweet kick of flavor into the sandwich.

The next time you stop by the university area in the middle of the day, take a walk around a couple of stores and check out the nook. Treat yourself for a bit. No matter the price, the extraordinary perspective on food is something you would want to try at least once.