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. Nickie’s menu lists a number of vegan items (indicated in blue) but most of them contain mock meats, so I always order the pho with vegetable broth–a generous broth containing cabbage, potatoes, carrots, exotic mushrooms, tofu and rice noodles—served with a heaping plateful of lemon, basil, Vietnamese coriander (“rau ram”–I didn’t even know there were different kinds of coriander before) and mung bean sprouts. All for $8.95!

One of these days–when it isn’t so cold, or when I’m with a friend–I’d definitely order the jackfruit salad, which the ever-accommodative Nickie says she can also make vegan.

Some other restaurants I’ve tried (and will return, except where indicated) on my recent Oahu visit include: Beet Box Cafe, Blue Tree Cafe, Shaloha, Diamond Cove Health Bar, Falafel King, Cafe Maharani, Da Spot, and even Zippy’s!

Beet Box Cafe (66-443 Kamehameha Hwy Haleiwa)-Located in the back of Celestial Natural Foods, this vegetarian restaurant’s food and atmosphere are cozy and inviting. I had the “Healthy Plate of Food” (onions, red peppers, broccoli, zucchini, shitake mushrooms, carrots, walnuts and kale seasoned with garlic, ginger and spices, served with brown rice and brazilian black beans, avocado and sprouts) and my companion had the “Burrito Babe”.

We also had some organic French press coffee with almond milk. Afterwards we bought some chia and goji cacao energy bars from Celestial Foods’ refrigerator case for the ride back to Waikiki. Fortunately, it’s a short-ride or there may not have been any left-over!

Blue Tree Cafe-The “Very Verde” smoothie (Vega protein, kale, avocado, spinach, banana, coconut water, hemp and chia seeds and apple) was delicious and wholesome. I had the “raw tacos”, which were not really raw (filling was nut-based, but the shell was a regular wheat tortilla), and my friend ordered spicy kale salad. Small portions both, but healthy and tasty. The homemade konbucha was pretty mild compared to other homemade brews. Coffee lovers rave about their local organic coffee beverages and personable and skilled baristas.

Zippy’s (Maikiki branch)-A local institution, I was suprized to learn they have a few vegan options, including salads, tofu/veggie burgers, as well as a vegetarian chili with brown rice. For $5.25, it’s probably the cheapest vegan meal in town.

Cafe Maharani (2509 South King Street)-I had been wanting to try this place for a while (seeing the lines outside), and brought a friend visiting from out of town. Unfortunately, there were only a couple items that didn’t contain animal products, i.e. eggs in the naan, and ghee (clarified butter) in the rice. I had the chapati and Dal with spinach, which was piping hot and spicy delicious.

In sympathy, my friends also ordered Vegetable Jalfrezi Masala (house speciality) which everyone thoroughly enjoyed, though the service was slow (albeit crowded for late friday night) and they forgot my friend’s samosa order.

Shaloha (3133 Waialae Ave)–A Falafel Combo, with crunchy chickpea balls and hummus and tabouli, served with pita bread was warm and filling. The owner, Sagi, is very health conscious serving local greens in his dishes and using minimal yeast in his bread. When I mentioned I liked whole wheat pita bread, he gave me a small bag to take home.

Diamond Head Cove Health Bar (3045 Monsaratt)–I had their Minty Fresh Smoothie (fresh mint leaves, honeydew & grapes) which was so rich tasting I called back later to make sure it didn’t contain dairy. DHC assured me all drinks are prepared with almond milk.

Falafel King (2239 S. King St) -Tender falafel and an impressive variety of meze (including babaganoush, cole slaw, chick peas, carrots, and broiled eggplant) make it so worth it. Afterward the waitress brought my friend and I a drink concoction of mint and ginger, as well as a turkish coffee. My first time to experience coffee containing a whole cardamom pod–delicious!

Himalayan Kitchen (1137 11th Ave #205)–They prepare everything made to order and can use tofu and coconut milk in place of meat or dairy. Like Maharani Cafe, their naan also contains eggs (surprised to learn it’s the norm), but fortunately the rice doesn’t have ghee.

The whole-wheat chapati (specify “without butter” when ordering) was hot and delicious. I had the vegetable (eggplant, zucchini, with tomato sauce) curry and substituted okra for potatoes. It was delicious. Nice atmosphere, sitting outside on the lanai in front. My companion (and many others) appreciate the fact that Himalayan Kitchen is BYOB, too.

Da Spot (2469 S King St)–I had heard a lot about their lentil soup and was not disappointed. My combo plate included Egyptian curry and 2 scoops of rice (one brown, one saffron).

On top of all these discoveries, I frequently dropped in to Maui Tacos (Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center) for their Puamana Surf Burrito-substituting guacamole for cheese–and making liberal use of fresh cilantro, pickles and sauces at the condiment bar.

It’s great to know there are so many relatively healthy and good tasting alternatives for eating vegan in Honolulu. Won’t you join me and share your favorite Oahu vegan friendly restaurants in the comments box below?

Whether you need help finding a good restaurant, the best plant-based diet for you, or questions about preparing healthy vegan dishes, contact me today.

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