Vegan & Tasty: Peace Cafe, S. King St., Honolulu

People are always asking me for vegan options. Here's one where the food's good enough to eat even if you're not vegan.

Where do you take a vegan friend to dinner?


Dr. Mark Emerson was in town. Even though he dispenses nutritional advice for a living, Emerson is good company–the kind of guy who titled his vegan diet book Eat Your A** Off … Literally.


You couldn't take him to Ruth's Chris, so the best option was let him choose. 


"I looked at all the vegan restaurants in town, had lunch at Peace Cafe," he said. "We're going back there."


This small eatery on S. King St. just celebrated its first anniversary. In a low-budget, but rather charming space, Peace Café serves up coffee, sandwiches and a half dozen cross-cultural vegan entrees.


There were three of us for dinner, and we went nuts ordering stuff off the menu. 


We loaded up on the "pupu plate" (above):  thick slices of toasted fresh bread and all manner of spreads, purple tapenade, bright green pesto, rich hummus and a (not particularly successful) eggless egg salad.


Plus three entrees:

  • Heart & Seoul: A vegan take on Korean bi bim bap with a yogurtlike dollop of fresh tofu.

  • Gingery curry: The tomato sauce of which was not very curry, certainly gingery, and the lightly marinated vegetables highly appealing.

  • Moroccan stew: A chick pea stew that certainly didn't taste Moroccan until you doctored it with the house sweet hot sauce. Doctored, this was a fabulous dish.

  • Plus, because Dr. Mark insisted, a "Hanoi" sandwich, with a thin slice of tofu in Vietnamese style peanut sauce.


Amazingly, we finished all of this, partly because it was light, and mostly because everything was fresh and tasted good.


The prices were low enough we didn't even mind paying 50 cents apiece for extra share plates so everyone could taste everything.


We hung out so long we even had desserts—including my favorite, an affogato, ice cream with a shot of espresso on top. There was probably too much espresso on mine, but it was good enough espresso I hardly even noticed the ice cream was soy and not dairy.


"Whoa, this is fun," said Dr. Mark. "Next time we get together, we have to have some wine." 


I looked up. "Wine's vegan," he said. "So's vodka."


Peace Cafe, 2239 S. King St., 951-7555,