Try These Local-Style Vegan Plate Lunches on O‘ahu
We’re talking 100% plant-based katsu, Korean fried chicken, loco moco and of course, mac salad.
It might sound too good to be true, but O‘ahu has options where vegans can indulge in local plate lunch staples, too. We’re talking 100% plant-based mac salad, Korean fried chicken, loco moco, katsu—the works. Proving that a vegan diet doesn’t always have to look like a pile of greens, Level V, Badass Burgers and ʻUmeke Market are serving up favorite Hawaiʻi flavors minus the animal product.
But you don’t have to be vegan to indulge in a hearty, animal-free meal. Eating more plant-based foods doesn’t just boost up your own health, it’s a good way to support a healthier planet. So why not indulge in guilt-free, good(ish)-for-you food?
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Badass Burgers lives up to its name. One look and it truly is hard to believe any of its burgers or plates are vegan. If you can wrap your mouth around a whole bite of the ultra stacked Sweet Ass Korean Chick’n Sandwich ($17), you’ll find the fried Chick’n (made with plant proteins and grains) loaded with vegan mayo and kim chee. My other favorite, the Hammah-Ass Burgersteak plate, comes with two Impossible meat patties swimming in a vegan buttery gravy bath over rice and a scoop of creamy potato salad.
Native Hawaiian-owned and sourcing ʻāina-grown ingredients, Badass Burgers emerged from a vision for plant-based foods loaded with the flavors of beloved local dishes. Vegan or not, this is the cheat meal, the craving-fixer you never knew you needed. Follow their Instagram to find out where their next pop-up will be and what their rotating menu lineup will look like. And be on the lookout for some badass wheels—Badass Burgers’ first food truck is nearly ready to roll.
Pop-up at Grace in Growlers in Kailua on Wednesdays and ‘Ono Grindz and Mākeke at Kapolei Commons on Sundays, (808) 859-2591, @badassburgershawaii
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Level V Lunchroom (temporarily closed)
Level V typically offers five local style vegan plate lunches to choose from: Chicken Katsu ($20), Loco Moco ($18), Chili with Frank ($15), Beef Stew ($15), and the Chili Chicken Katsu mix plate ($18)—all served with two scoops rice, potato mac salad and a vitamin B-12 boosting drink. The katsu is a must. Made with sliced portobello mushrooms, the katsu is fried to a golden crunch that is hard to find even in a classic chicken katsu dish.
Online preorders open at the start of the week for pickup on Friday, and they sell out quick. Pickup is at an easy-to-miss abode in Makiki (you’ll know you’re in the right place when you’re greeted in the lot). Check their Instagram or website for the latest on ordering and availability. Level V uses 100% compostable and plastic-free packaging and recycles its food scraps for composting. You don’t have to be vegan to support this local, health-conscious eatery.
1316 Pi‘ikoi St., (808) 258-7977, levelv808.square.site, @levelv808
From healthy to indulgent, this vegan food eatery offers the melting pot of flavors we crave. Plate lunches include the Pono Chili ($9.49) or kalo luau ($10.99) steeped in coconut milk just the way we like it, with kalo grown by the nonprofit Ho‘okua‘āina in place of squid. The Korean Mock Chicken ($10.99) is renowned: Made with vital wheat gluten flour and tossed in a sweet and savory tamari sauce, this Korean style fried chicken is as ʻono as any other. If you don’t want to overindulge, order your plate lunch a la carte and top it off with a detox soup, smoothie or salad. You can even start your day with a Mock Sausage McLovin, a rotating menu item.
ʻUmeke Market opened in 1997 as Kaimukī Health Market and revamped its menu in 2017, whipping up the local favorites we know and love today. Order online for pickup without dealing with Downtown parking. Check out their daily specials and be ready to indulge with a little less guilt. After all, their motto is “Healthy Living. Local Style.”
1001 Bishop St. Ste 110, (808) 522-7377, @umekemarket