New Vegan Restaurants in Honolulu
Two new dining options on South King Street offer vegan cuisine.
If even celeb chef Mario Batali, who offers whipped pork fat alongside a bread basket, has jumped on the veggie wagon—he’s offering “Meatless Mondays” at his restaurants—it’s possible that our meat-centric town is prepared to make the leap as well.
“Honolulu is ready for vegan,” says Neil Phan, the co-owner of Loving Hut, one of two new vegan eateries in Honolulu. Phan and his three friends brought the Loving Hut franchise, which has 120 eateries internationally, to Honolulu, after noting a trend toward environmental awareness and health consciousness. “Now’s the time to open a vegan restaurant,” Phan says. “We want to veganize day-to-day meals.” Another branch may soon open on Pensacola.
Vegan restaurants in Honolulu have a strong ideology. Loving Hut hopes to “express compassion, sustainability, love, caring—the aloha spirit—through the dining experience,” Phan says. “People talk about wanting to change the world. We want to change it one meal at a time.” Peace Café, which opened in May as the first vegan eatery in Honolulu, shares a similar idealistic philosophy.
In a comfortable and cozy space, Peace Café partners Ariko Moriya and Megumi Yamaki serve sandwich options like tempeh glazed with teriyaki sauce, or miso-tahini spinach and tofu. Lunch boxes include a Moroccan stew with chickpeas and whole wheat couscous; and silky tofu, a soft, creamy tofu on top of rice and seasoned vegetables. Peace Café’s array of baked goods, such as kinako (soybean flour) cookies, bread pudding, Mexican chocolate tart and apple cinnamon mochi cake, beat desserts at many non-vegan eateries in town.
The owners of Loving Hut are adamant that, if you’re a meat eater, “You don’t have to give up the taste, texture, the quality of food that you’re accustomed to,” Phan says. “The faux meats—mock chicken, shrimp—still have the texture and taste that locals are used to.” Even meat appearances are kept up: yam root, shaped and striped to look like shrimp, is wrapped into Loving Hut’s summer rolls.
Loving Hut, 1614 S. King St., 373-6465.
Peace Café, 2239 S. King St., 951-7555.
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