Simplicity is key to Gooch’s Snackbox
BY NINA WU/ firstname.lastname@example.org
If there’s anything Mark “Gooch” Noguchi has learned from all the different eateries already under his belt, it’s that less is more.
Thus, his mantra for Snackbox, the newest venture of the Pili Group: “Keep it simple.”
Snackbox, an offshoot of Lunchbox, a cafe for employees at Hawaiian Airlines, is located at the back counter inside Pad (where Morning Glass used to be inside of R&D) on Auahi St. The new eatery was created out of a collaboration with “Trading Spaces” interior designer Lauren Makk, owner of Pad, a modern home decor and furniture store launched last August. It used to be around the corner by the parking lot, but recently found a new home on Auahi Street.
“We were trying to figure out where to go,” said Noguchi. “Our team is growing and we needed opportunities for our team. We miss Kakaako and wanted to be back in Kakaako.”
Partners of the Pili Group, founded in 2012, include Noguchi’s wife, Amanda Corby, Keoni Willing, chef Chris Okuhara (owner of Miso & Ale) and chef Kimmy Oi, who will take care of pastries.
In today’s world of pop-ups, seeing restaurants hop around Kakaako has become common, as landowner Kamehameha Schools redevelops the neighborhood into what it calls “the new social epicenter of Honolulu.”
On the Snackbox menu: Turkey Cranberry sandwich with Ma‘o Farms sassy greens, provolone and mayo ($7); Local Egg Salad with Ma‘o sassy greens, carrots and capers ($6); Hirabara Kale Wrap with carrots, cabbages and puff rice ($8); plus Salad Jar, Ma‘o Farms sassy greens with North Shore tomatoes and carrots and puff rice ($9; $7 for refills).
The cranberry sauce in the turkey cranberry sandwich is housemade, according to Noguchi, who said he spent six months working on creating the best version of the sandwich he could.
Beverages include: ‘olena lemonade, mamaki iced tea and Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed sweet coconut milk ($4.50 served in a Mason jar; $3 for refills). Side treats include cookies, scones and chips ($1 to $2.75).
The grab-and-go menu will rotate, according to Noguchi, and will also include local-inspired bento boxes, smoothies and stews.
Customers are encouraged to bring their own bags, utensils (reusable bamboo sets are available at QUINCE next door) and reusable Mason jars back for special savings at the counter.
Snackbox will have a nine-month run in the Pad spot, according to Noguchi, plus continue to have a presence in Kakaako afterwards, though he declined to give exact details just yet.
Noguchi, 39, was one of the partners operating Taste, which had a one-year run just down the block, as well as chef of the He‘eia Pier General Store & Deli, which was featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” on Food Network. Before that, the Culinary Institute of America graduate worked at Town and Mavro.