Tag Archives: japanese

Enlightened Vegan Dining at Satori Hawaii

Satori Hawaii is a vegan pop-up at Soto Mission

A year ago, Megumi Odin left Peace Cafe, the much-loved restaurant she started almost five years ago, to follow her creative inspiration to the next level.

In September, the chef behind the first vegan restaurant in Honolulu began Satori Hawaii, a “pop-up” in the Soto Mission of Hawaii (1708 Nu’Uanu Ave) serving Contemporary Shojin Ryori (Buddhist Cuisine) meals that are vegan and gluten-free.

Megumi says opening a vegan restaurant in the U.S. was her mission, but she didn’t believe Americans were ready for Japanese style vegan food back when Peace Cafe opened. 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

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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How Soy Matcha Latte Breaks Milk and Coffee Habit (and Shatters Centuries of Tradition)

Like the Italians who believe milk and sugar ruin the taste of espresso and that cappucinos are not for real men, Japanese purists must be shocked to see their prized matcha green tea being mixed in everything from lattes to ice cream to Oreo cookies, candy bars, and martinis, too!

Some of us may have even added sugar to Japanese green tea when we first tried it (what are those packets of sugar doing on the table, anyway?) However, since most people with an appreciation for Japanese culture and cuisine prefer their green tea straight, I was recently surprised to meet a Japanese-American who sweetens her green tea.

After serving a wonderful macrobiotic dinner, she offered us a “matcha latte”. Once I explained that I limit milk (non-dairy) to a single cafe latte at breakfast (for caloric purposes, not out of respect for Italian taboo), she insisted that we just give it a try. Mixed with sweetened vanilla soymilk and honey, the green tea bag and the tiny amount of matcha powder that accompanied it were overpowered by the sweetness of honey and added sugar in the flavored soymilk.

Ever since that day, I had been craving a matcha latte made with the rich taste of Kyoto (“Uji”) matcha and unsweetened soymilk. Once I got past the idea of pairing matcha with my breakfast oatmeal, I’ve been happily alternating matcha lattes with chai lattes and cafe lattes ever since. Try it for yourself, and let me know what you think!

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Birthday Celebration without Meat or Alcohol?

My family back home in the States kept asking how I would celebrate my birthday this year.

I replied that my girlfriend was going to cook me a dinner of Cauliflower Mushroom Marranca and Kale with Cashew Cream Sauce from FatFreeVegan, but I guess somehow cauliflower and kale didn’t sound festive enough, because they persisted in inquiring about my birthday plans.

In recent years, due to long working hours, it had become increasingly rare to celebrate my birthday on my birthday (let alone find time for a relaxing meal anytime), so I would celebrate a little here and there, whenever I could over the course of what became “birthday week”. Usually, this added up to an excess of rich foods and alcohol, and extra weight that had to be exercised off.

Prior to becoming vegan, I would usually request my favorite comfort foods such as stewed lamb shanks, coq au vin (chicken cooked in wine),  or spanakopita for special occasions. Now, I still celebrate with rare foods (kale was unknown here in Japan until recently) and new methods of cooking (or even raw dishes).

People frequently ask me if vegans are allowed to drink alcohol. Continue reading

Sure, Natto Stinks, but It’s Good for You

Natto is an acquired taste for anyone. Even in Japan, aversion to the smelly, sticky fermented soybeans is so strong that foreign residents who like natto are often said to be “more Japanese than Japanese”.

Although relatively unknown outside Japan, for those on a vegan diet natto is a taste worth acquiring, because it’s really healthy: a probiotic rich in vitamins, especially B-12–which vegans often require dietary supplements in order to ensure they’re getting an ample supply.

Long before becoming vegan, I was eating natto stuffed into sushi hand-rolls, called “natto temaki” in Japanese. Wrapped in a sheet of nori, topped with a mound of sliced green onions and doused in wasabi soy-sauce, the aroma and texture of the natto is barely discernible (for a neophyte natto-eater, this is a blessing). You may even be able to find natto rolls in N. American sushi bars.

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