Category Archives: Vegan Restaurants

Soup Beats Raw Food-Even in Honolulu

Pho Vietnamese Soup Loving Hut HonoluluAs I’ve discovered over this past winter especially–even in Hawaii–soup is not only a great pleasure but an absolute necessity for me. And I’m so grateful whenever I can guide others toward healthier vegan alternatives for their favorite comfort foods, too.

Recently, I received a request from a reader in Honolulu: “My roommate wants to eat healthy tonight,” she said, “and I seem to remember passing a vegan restaurant on Kapiolani. Can you recommend a good place to eat and also what to order?”

Obviously, she was referring to Greens and Vines (909 Kapiolani Blvd.), but with the weather in Honolulu as cold as it was (OK–cold is relative), I didn’t think raw vegan food would exactly win them over to plant-based eating. Continue reading

Gratitude for Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Hana, Maui

DSC_0222 Hana is a charming town on the northeast tip of Maui famous for its curvy highway, pristine beaches, and utter lack of vegan restaurants.

OK, it’s not so famous for that last one–in fact, Hana has only a handful of restaurants to begin with. But–unless you enjoy staying in and cooking while on vacation, you’ve got to appreciate any restaurant that makes an effort to accommodate those of us on plant-based diets.

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Plenty of Vegan Aloha on Oahu

On my previous Oahu visit, I wrote about several vegan friendly restaurants and markets. I’m excited to report I’ve experienced even more great dining spots this time around.

After spending several months on Oahu, even a health-conscious vegan begins to crave more variety than offered by the island’s handful of vegan restaurants. In the winter months, you may find even yourself craving hot soup. That’s the time to head to Nickie Cafe (3297 Campbell Ave).

Although Nickie has been vegan for most of her life, her sister (who runs the cafe together) is not. On the bright side, the menu has dishes to please everybody.  Continue reading

Millennium Tops San Francisco Gourmet Vegan Restaurants

For all its reputation as a food mecca, and its hippy image, I was surprised to learn on a recent visit that downtown San Francisco is home to only 10 vegan restaurants.

Three of these 10 are part of the Loving Hut chain, which-despite their use of excessive oil and textured soy protein, and cafeteria atmosphere–are far superior to any non-vegan fast-food, and provide an animal compassionate and practical alternative for those transitioning to a plant-based diet. Continue reading

Rainbow Raw Food Tokyo

Satoshi has been doing an incredible job increasing awareness of veganism in Japan by translating this blog into Japanese.  An omnivore himself, he was curious about plant-based diets because of his frequent travels to India on business, where vegetarianism is common for spiritual reasons.  Satoshi’s growing interest in vegan food led him to visit a Tokyo raw vegan restaurant and file this review:

I invited a lot of friends to accompany me to a vegetarian restaurant for dinner, but none of them accepted, except Emily, my English conversation teacher. It was the first time I had tried a raw food, vegan, or even a vegetarian restaurant.

Emily has been in Japan for about half a year, and hasn’t eaten meat since high school. With a sister who is vegetarian–Emily was interested in experiencing Japanese-style raw vegan dishes.

Rainbow Raw Food Cafe and Bar in Hammatsu-cho is a very small and cozy restaurant with six tables and twelve chairs. You can choose from the Raw Food Dinner Course of six dishes (¥2,500), Combination Plate (¥1,800), or something from the a la carte menu. We each ordered the Dinner Course, and I had organic beer and Emily had a smoothie to drink. Continue reading

What To Do When Your “Go-To” Vegan Restaurant Goes Away?

The unexpected closure of The Vegetable Garden, one of the Washington, DC area’s vegan favorites has stunned many loyal fans.

Besides its location (in N. Bethesda), the best thing about Vegetable Garden was that omnivore friends didn’t feel they were doing you a favor by accompanying you there. The Chinese-style vegan restaurant’s dishes tasted as delicious as the “original recipes” that people forgot they were prepared without using animal products.

The second best thing about Vegetable Garden was its large menu: Many restaurants I visit, I have difficulty choosing something, because very few things look appealing. Yet Vegetable Garden’s menu was so varied, I could barely make up my mind, and always felt there was something to look forward to trying on the next visit…

Vegan sushi rolls, seaweed salad, soba noodles, and kung pao tofu were among my favorites, while an omnivore friend preferred yams with pecans and “beef”, or pineapple fried rice. I also loved Vegetable Garden’s complementary whole-wheat vegetable bread with sesame seeds, as well as “heart-healthy” menu items, macrobiotic dishes, and western-style deserts such as “cheesecake” made with non-dairy milks.

Vegetable Garden was a perennial favorite of PCRM, Compassion Over Killing, and other vegan and animal rights organizations, too. With so much love (and a Zagat rating), how could Vegetable Garden go out of business? Rumor has it the landlord was raising the rent. Most customers I know would have been willing to pay more to keep them in business, had they only known in advance. Continue reading

Eat Healthy and Save Money on Vacation

If your normally healthy diet goes out the window when traveling, you’re not alone.

Regardless of the type of diet you follow, temptation begins the instant you leave home. While the airlines have practically eliminated free snacks and in-flight meals, the airport, timezone changes, the waiting, lack of routine and accountability–especially when traveling alone–can all wreck your discipline.

When I heard the upscale Embassy Suites Waikiki offered a nightly evening manager’s reception, I pictured eating green salads, antipastos, and raw vegetables I had often found in Hilton’s Asian properties.

It took me 2 days to realize the happy hour’s “rotating menu of snacks” alternated between a variety of salty junk foods (peanuts, pretzels, party mix and chips), which–try as I might–I couldn’t resist shoveling onto my plate. What’s worse, I still ate a normal dinner afterward, in order to feel satisfied.

I had to make sure this situation would not continue, or I would certainly be in store for big weight gain during my vacation.

How does a traveler stay healthy, when it seems so much is out of your hands??

  • First of all–it may sound obvious–but don’t select a vacation destination just because of its unbridled eating opportunities. Your subconscious mind is more powerful than you think.
  • If you have a choice of hotels, check around ahead of time and choose one that offers fresh foods containing plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Continue reading

Do You Like Coffee in Your Milk, or Milk in Your Coffee?

A recent article in the Washington Post discussing the effects of various foods on heart health identified the greatest health risk of coffee to be weight gain from blended coffee beverages packed with empty calories from sugar and dairy fat.

Lately, it seems the creator and biggest purveyor of the beverages has been trying to rise above criticism they’re as guilty as McDonalds and other fast food chains for contributing to high rates of obesity and diet-related diseases.

Along with introducing oatmeal to its menu, Starbucks published guides to 20 Drinks Under 200 Calories” as well as “Favorite Foods under 350 calories” on its website.  Unfortunately, Starbucks plays down the healthiest beverages (full-leaf teas, brewed coffee, espresso, caffe Americano, etc.) which all have under 10 calories. For example–if you’ve grown tired of Pike Place–did you know you can order any beans Starbucks carries be prepared with a French-press?

Adding milk or cream and sugar to brewed coffee is so common among Starbucks’ U.S. customers, the baristas “leave room” in the cup by default. No wonder hard-core coffee drinkers (those who know the difference between an ibrik and a v60) don’t take the chain seriously, especially after it introduced the lightly-roasted Blonde coffee (now its most popular), further blurring the line with pedestrian coffee.

Of course, only Starbucks’ pure coffees/teas and those made with soymilk–instead of dairy milk–are of any interest to those on a whole foods plant-based diet (those who haven’t given up caffeine, at least).

For the record, Starbucks custom-blended soymilk contains more calories and saturated fat than its skim milk. However, soymilk contains no cholesterol (vs 5g for non-fat milk) and does contain fiber, a beneficial nutrient found only in plant-based foods. Continue reading

Is Tokyo’s Vegan Dining Scene Improving?

Even in London, with thousands of vegan residents and visitors, great vegan restaurants come and go. Still, it is a sad statement of Japanese interest in veganism that Tokyo begins 2012 with three fewer vegan-only restaurants than last year.

  • First, there was the closure in March of the vegan and organic J’s Kitchen in Hiroo, owing to a shortage of safe and secure food products following the Tohoko disaster.
  • In December, Tokyo lost Manna Foods (a raw vegan restaurant) in Daikanyama and Cafe Little Hands (lunch only pop-up restaurant) in Jiyugaoka. I had never been to Manna, but had sampled their raw lasagna at VeggieFesta. Like many others, I found their food delicious, but pricey for the small portions.
  • Attending the farewell event at Cafe Little Hands, I regretted I had never eaten there before because the food was wholesome–not oily or excessively flavored–and included a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts. It was like eating a home-cooked meal, and reasonably priced, too.

On the positive side, there is a growing number of plant-based dining alternatives from restaurant chains to pick up the slack:

  • After months anticipating the arrival of Fukuoka’s Mana Burgers in Tokyo (it was renamed “Island Veggie” with backing from the Aloha Table chain).
    • Visiting Island Veggie in Hiroo for a weekend lunch, I ordered the set, and was given a choice of deli items with either bread (the “whole wheat” bread was not baked in-house, and whole wheat content minimal), brown rice, or rice cracker.
    • The namesake “Mana Burger” my friend had was small and light on lettuce and tomato. Although the patty is vegan, they offer dairy cheese on the burger and no dairy-free cheese option. Bun was not particularly healthy either, perhaps why Mana Burger’s originator calls it “natural junk.”
    • Island Veggie’s novelty, and upscale location attracts a good crowd for now, and–despite small portions and high prices–its corporate support should keep it afloat.

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How to Eat Healthy and Save Money in Paradise

While in Honolulu for last year’s marathon, I discovered Loving Hut, Simple Joy, the vegan-friendly Green Papaya, and the not so vegan-friendly Roy’s. Staying in an apartment with full kitchen, it was not restaurants, but farmers markets–such as the one at Kapiolani Community College–that topped the list for fresh, local produce and economical home cooking.

This year, I decided to stay in Waikiki and experience Honolulu without wheels, catching an airport shuttle bus ($15) to the hotel, and getting around by foot and public transport. Over the course of a week, I easily saved $400 for car rental and parking (which alone costs over $30/day at some hotels!).

Unsure of the availability of nutritious vegan foods, I had baked myself a couple loaves of whole-wheat sourdough bread, okara quinoa carob cookies, and prepared batches of protein bars and sesame halvah bars, too. I packed so much that I overloaded the baggage scales before leaving Japan.

I have to commend All Nippon Airways for its comfortable flight (how did we ever live without personal movie screens?) and vegan meal service. The two meals–ratatouille with 100% whole wheat roll, and a spinach wrap sandwich, both accompanied by salad and cut fruit–seemed better quality than the standard “beef or chicken” fare. Be sure to order ANA’s “strict vegetarian meal” when you make your reservation!

During my one week stay in Waikiki, I found plenty of choices within walking distance and/or by “The Bus” service ($2.50 per ride–Take No. 4 toward Nuuanu and get off at University and S. King intersection) that were vegan and budget-friendly, too.
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