5 Fusion- Best of Bend

My first visit to 5 Fusion in Bend, OR was for a random happy hour. By the time we had finished our nosh, I was smitten. Sipping martinis under the suspended celling of water felt like taking a mini vacation without having to leave the well appointed minimalist space. The attention to detail in the service, the food and presentation is exceptional.

Ordering from the happy hour menu, it was exciting to have so many plant-based options, sans de rigueur tofu. I started with the vegetable tempura, since I use this as my standard gauge for most Japanese restaurants. Is the tempura batter light and lacy? Yes! Are the veggies cooked to perfection? Yes! Is the assortment pleasant to eat? Yes, shiitake mushroom, asparagus,green beans, and sweet potato are some of my favorites. Next, we had eggplant prepared in a style reminiscent of eggplant parmesan but with an Asian twist. The eggplant medallions were deep fried in a panko crust and paired with a rich tomato sauce instead of being smothered in cheese. The textures and flavors made this dish divine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Owner Lilian Chu and Executive Chef Joe Kim are creating culinary magic by blending flavors from both East and West and focusing on local, organic ingredients. “There’s nothing better than fresh vegetables…just a little bit of seasoning and they taste wonderful,” says Joe Kim (pictured at right). I had to go back for more and lunch was the perfect excuse for more yumminess.

 

 

It’s easy enough for a plant-based foodie to hit some great vegetarian/vegan/raw kitchens even in small towns. However, it’s a little more of a challenge to find an upscale dining experience that will make the omnivores rave and still be veg-friendly. 5 Fusion is the perfect solution without ever feeling compromised.

As an island girl, I have a special affinity for tropical delights. The first course was this “ah-mazing” dragon fruit, green apple and pineapple salad topped with shaved coconut. Fresh,bright and visually stunning.

 

My other weakness is for savory, crunchy snacks- the taro root chips satisfied the craving.

When the plate of wok-fried green beans was set down, I could not concentrate on anything else. The aroma was so intoxicating, all I wanted to do was eat the beans! *vegans: this dish is normally made with oyster sauce, so ask for a modification

My fellow food warrior tried the ahi poke salad served on a bed of mixed greens, seaweed, avocado and won ton crisps. Judging by the look on his face, I knew he was happy he didn’t have to share this one with me!

I always encourage people to tell the chef or their server about dietary restrictions because it can often result in a spectacular off the menu creation. One of the dishes Joe Kim made for me was this curried vegetable risotto topped with…kimchee!

Vegetable maki and vegetable tempura roll topped with sweet chili sauce served with micro greens

Shiitakes and soba noodles swim in a delicate blend of soy and deep umami flavor. It’s like a warm hug, a giant bowl of comfort and I’m pretty sure I could eat this everyday.

And if I was merely smitten before, this sushi roll made me fall in love. Green apple, inari, asparagus maki (roll) with a sweet chili infused coconut cream and topped with crushed macadamia nuts. WOW, wow, WOW! When Joe travels, he says he always visits the museums and restaurants in different cities. His passion for beauty and food is translated effortlessly onto each dish that leaves his kitchen. “That’s the best part, making a piece of art out of food” says Joe. Like Hokusai’s The Great Wave, the components of this sushi roll washed over me and left me floating on a sea of gastronomic delight.

5 Fusion hosts a charity dinner once a month for a different beneficiary and their fundraising efforts have been quite successful. In 2011, they raised over $35,000 for local charities. The next event will be hosted for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Oregon on May 21, 2012. The tasting menus can be altered to fit dietary requests like vegan/vegetarian or to accommodate food allergies, so be sure to inquire.

It also came as no surprise when I learned 5 Fusion had won the “Restaurant of the Year” award from The Source Weekly. You can tell that this is not just a restaurant, but a labor of love. 5 Fusion definitely tops my “Best Of Bend” list and this leg of my Oregon food tour is now complete.

5 Fusion & Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Photo credit: Paul G. Ong

Road Trip to Angeline’s Bakery

In my Universe, the weekends are made for indulging. Earlier in the week, I had already sampled the carrot cake and cinnamon rolls from Angeline’s Bakery in the name of “research”. I woke up Friday morning jonesing for more vegan sugary goodness and begged my cousin to drive me back to the town of Sisters, OR so I could get my fix.

With all the plotting and planning I did to find eateries suitable for the most discerning plant-based foodies while on this food tour, Angeline’s Bakery had somehow eluded my list. Thank goodness my cousin remembered eating Angeline’s sandwiches, which led us to the promised land. The cases of vegan and gluten free baked goods will make you think you’ve died and gone to dessert heaven.

We stocked up on more cinnamon rolls because these are some of the best I’ve ever had. I am a fan of the lower profile roll rather than a bigger bun type confection since it allows all of the sugary, cinnamon goodness to get in to the crevices without making it tooth achingly sweet. The brownies are so fudgey, nutty, and moist, I had to get two. It’s a toss up on whether I liked the oatmeal raisin or ginger molasses cookie better- best to just call it a tie. The cookies are big enough to share and remember when you share, the half you keep is always calorie and fat free *insert wink and smile here*

To balance all of the sweet, I picked up some of the raw foods selections like curry flax crackers, buckwheat pizza “crusts” and cashew “cheese”. The cashew cheese is quite addicting. I had to stop myself from eating half the container all at once, remembering that it would be nice to have some to savor later.

If you want a more savory meal, Angeline’s offers a breakfast filled with tender morsels like scones or bagel sandwiches. For lunch,choose from soups, salads,”wraptures”, polenta pizza, veggie enchiladas and daily specials. During winter hours (Nov.-early June) the shop closes up at 4pm, so get there early for the best selection. Or, call ahead to reserve your treats if you know what you want. The staff was kind enough to get a bag of goodies ready for me so I wouldn’t be disappointed if the cinnamon rolls were all sold out. Friendly service and fantastic food make Angeline’s Bakery the perfect small town gem.

*All of the bakery goods in the cases are clearly labeled as to whether they are vegan or gluten free. If they are not labeled, assume conventional.

Angeline's Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Vegan in Paradise- Where to Eat Vegan on Oahu

Hawaii is a food obsessed state. When we’re eating breakfast, we’re thinking about what will be ono (delicious) for lunch. At lunch, we’re dreaming about dinner. And no meal is complete without something sweet at the end. I could write a dozen blog posts about this topic, but as a starting point for my PDX family that will be vacationing here soon, I offer this small sampling of my favorite spots to get a plant-based meal on the island.

Kailua Recommendations:

Z Pizza uses organic ingredients and offers vegan pies and calzones with Daiya cheese and Gardein sausage. My favorite is the Berkeley Vegan with extra zucchini.

151 Hekili Street  Kailua, HI 96734

(808) 230-8400

Mon-Thu 10 am – 9:30 pm

Fri-Sat 10 am – 10 pm

Prima offers a selection of small plates intended to be shared with the table. The menu is always changing, but there is always a nice selection of veggie options. Stop by Foodland or R.Fields next door to BYOB as they do not have a liquor license. Reservations strongly suggested.

108 Hekili St Suite 107  Kailua HI 96734

(808)888-8933

Dinner   Tuesday – Saturday 5p-10p

Lunch    Tuesday – Saturday 11a – 2p

Closed   Sunday & Monday

Kalapawai Café is a quick service joint in the heart of Kailua town. Daily breakfast specials, made to order sandwiches/pizzas and a full deli case with offerings like grilled vegetables, special salads and more.

750 Kailua Road  Kailua, Hawaii 96734

808) 262-3354

Sunday-Thursday 6AM-9PM

Friday & Saturday Kitchen closes at 9:30PM

Saturday & Sunday Kitchen opens at 7AM.

Down to Earth is Hawaii’s only all vegetarian market and café. Pay by the pound hot food bar with selections like stews, chili, roasted vegetables. Full salad bar. Prepared grab & go items in the refrigerated case. Made to order sandwiches, wraps and more at the deli counter.

201 Hamakua Drive
  Kailua, HI 96734

(808) 262-3838

7:30am – 10:00pm, 7 days a week

Lanikai Juice is smoothie heaven but the real treat is the Acai Extravaganza bowl topped with tropical fruit and granola.

600 Kailua Road, #101  Kailua,  Hawaii, 96734

(808)262-2383

Mon-Fri 6am-8pm

Sat 7am-8pm ,  Sun 7am-7pm

Aloha Salads is right next door to Lanikai Juice, so while you’re waiting for your morning smoothie, pop over and grab a salad or a wrap to take to the beach for lunch. I am a creature of habit and always order the Satay salad with no chicken, substitute black beans for my protein and request an extra side of dressing.

600 Kailua Road #103
  Kailua, HI 96734

(808) 262-2016

10 AM – 9 PM Daily

Town bound destinations: 

Shirokiya is a feast for the eyes and your tummy. Full review and video HERE

1450 Ala Moana Blvd.
#2250
  Honolulu, Hawaii 96814  Food Court (2nd level)

Mondays thru Sundays 10a.m. to 9p.m.
(store hours subject to Ala Moana holiday hours)

Mana Bu’s is home to the master musubi maker using the freshest and highest quality ingredients he can find. Not your run of the mill spam musubi by a longshot. Really cheap eats that will fill you up, full review HERE

1618 S. King St Honolulu,HI 96826

(808)358-0287

Mon-Fri 6:30am- when sold out or 1pm ( whichever is sooner)

Sat 9am-1pm

Sunday/Holidays-Closed

Peace Cafe is Oahu’s only fully vegan café. I can’t believe I haven’t done a blog post with a proper review yet! My favorites are the Popeye sandwich, the Soy Soba salad, Caesar Salad if you want something really light or the BBQ Tempeh or Korean Bi Bim Bap for bigger appetites.

2239 S. King St.  Honolulu, HI 96826

(808)951-7555

Mon-Sat: 11am – 9:00pm
 Sun: 11am – 3:00pm

Take a ride out to Hawaii Kai and stop in to Kale’s Natural Foods. There’s a few grab & go items in the front of the store and made to order magic at the deli window in the back. Menu items feature local, organic ingredients with vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options. When you’re out that way, keep going towards Aina Hina and see Uncle Clay for shave ice with some unique flavors like at House of Pure Aloha

Hawaii Kai Shopping Center

377 Keahole St #A-1  Honolulu, HI 96825

(808)396-6993

Mon-Fri 8am-8pm

Sat-Sun 8am-5pm

Downtown @ the HiSAM
 is the perfect break from all the artsy fartsy happenings at the museum. Though the sit down menu doesn’t offer many interesting veg*n dishes, check out the take away bar for a few veggie treats made with local, organic produce. My quickie review HERE

Lunch reservations are recommended.

Hawaii State Art Museum

250 Hotel St, 1st Floor  Honolulu, HI 96813

(808)536-5900

Mon-Sat 11am-2pm (Lunch only)

First Friday 5pm-8:30pm

The Kailua Thursday Night Farmers’ Market
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A rotating assortment of food vendors,fresh produce and baked goods. Bring cash and your appetite, ’nuff said

behind Longs Drugs 
on Kailua Road

Thursday 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Statewide Daily Farmers’ Market Guide:

http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/add/farmers-market-in-hawaii/Oahu.pdf

Lunch at Shirokiya- Ala Moana Center

I know it bugs some of you to answer the ubiquitous question we get as plant-powered people : “Well, what do you eat?Tofu?” But, I get really geeked out and excited to share the foodie bounty we get to choose from as a veg*ns.

One of my go-to spots for a cheap and cheerful lunch on Oahu is Shirokiya in the Ala Moana Shopping Center. Shirokiya is a Japanese department store that features one of the most impressive displays of what a food court should be. It is not exclusively veg*n, but trust me, if you can’t find something to eat here – you’re just being difficult! If you enter the store from the mall level, you can peruse the baked goods from St. Germain Bakery. Stroll by the kiosks to sample waffle donuts or manju if you’re feeling adventurous.

Head up the escalators and prepare to have your senses overwhelmed. Each month, a different food is featured and a festival type atmosphere is created to celebrate. One month it may be tonkatsu (fried meats) and the next it might be mochi (sweets made with a rice flour base) or musubi (rice balls). Bentos, sushi, soups, salads, made to order dishes, tempura, and a buffet line are offered all year long.Take your time and be sure to look at everything before you make your selection. Two laps around the upper level is recommended because you may miss something delicious the first time around.

My personal favorite is the selection of okazu (side dishes) with every vegetable you could imagine. My mouth begins to water when I see namasu (pickled cucumbers, radish,seaweed) and the hijiki (seasoned seaweed). If you are garlic lover like me, try the pink pickled garlic for a taste delight. I could seriously eat that stuff like candy and BONUSkeep the vampires away. If you’re taste buds are steering you towards something heartier, try the nishime (vegetable stew) filled with lotus root, shiitakes, carrots and more. There are cases of salads and rows of fresh produce for the super health conscious but if you’re on vacation and feeling naughty, try the fried delights like vegetable tempura. I have a special place in my heart for kabocha (Asian pumpkin) and sweet potato tempura hot out of the fryer. If you’re head is starting to spin and you need to make a quick get away, grab a bento (mixed lunch box), an assortment of veggie sushi or a musubi set  to go with your oshinko (pickled veggies) and your meal is complete. Noodle-philes can get your carb on with yakisoba (fried noodles) or bowl of udon (fat noodles in broth) with different toppings.

The ingredient list is labeled on most of the packaged food, which makes avoiding certain allergens/animal products easy. One caveat: If you are a strict vegan, ask if them item you’ve selected is free of bonito (fish flakes), as this ingredient is often used in miso soup, broths and some dipping sauces. I tell the staff that I am allergic to seafood and they are very accommodating.

Pay at one of the cashier stations located on either ends of the top floor, find a table and enjoy the people watching as you sip on a glass of sake. Kanpai!
Shirokiya on Urbanspoon

Common Table- Comfort food for the collective soul

Have you ever had the pleasure of dining at non-profit restaurant? My first experience was in Salt Lake City,UT at One World Cafe. There were no prices on the menu and you were given a tiny envelope to pay what you can. If you were unable to pay, you could volunteer for an hour or two and cover your meal in work trade. It was so interesting to see serious business people in suits sitting next to a motley crue of colorful characters that were down on their luck, all happy to be enjoying a plate of comfort food.

The concept is the brainchild of owner Denise Cerreta and more of the community cafe models are popping up across the country. I was super excited to learn that Bend,OR has its own outpost called the Common Table. These types of cafes allow people who normally wouldn’t be able to dine out  the ability to enjoy local, organic, healthy food. And if you can pay, you know your dollar is contributing towards the greater good of uniting people through the love of real food.

Common Table’s space is open and welcoming with a long communal table in the center. If you don’t feel like making new friends, choose one of the smaller tables after you’ve ordered your meal at the counter.

I love sampling different types of kombucha beverages and the Kombucha Mama Chai hit the spot. Just the right amount of spicy effervescence to wet my palette before diving into my Tempeh BLT – smoked tempeh, arugula, tomato, onion and a bowl of  tomato bisque. The soup was everything I wanted it to be… tangy, rich tomato flavor without being artificially sweet or overly salty. The BLT was nice to dip into the soup but a bit bland on its own. I think they just needed to season the tempeh to give it a life of its own.

 

By the time I ate my beautiful side salad, I was completely stuffed. No room to even contemplate dessert on this visit!

My cousin had this decadent plate of Smoked Tomato Mac ‘n Cheese  and his wife enjoyed a Pumpkin Risotto with a Winter Salad  of shaved fennel, gorgonzola, & apple walnut vinaigrette

There is a featured menu item each day offered on a “pay what you can” basis. I’ll have to give it a try on my next visit.

I’m officially putting this order out to the Universe: I would like to open a non-profit community cafe in my home town. No one should ever go hungry and no one should have to ask for a hand out when we can offer and hand up. We’re all in this together, let’s take care of each other.

Common Table on Urbanspoon

Salt Kitchen & Tasting Bar

I rush into the minimalist space of Salt kitchen and tasting bar with the food warriors in tow. We’re late for our 5:30 reservation by 20 minutes but they’ve saved  our table in the tiny upstairs dining area. The Kaimuki eatery feels like it would more likely  be found in the Meat Packing district of New York than shoe-boxed between the toy store and hookah lounge on Wailae Ave. but we head in and are ready to get down to business

Hang out for happy hour downstairs 5:00 to 6:30 everyday and all day Sunday for a quick bite. Or make a reservation for one of the handful of tables upstairs and linger with friends. The High Class cocktail  intrigued me with a mix of Aperol (bitters), Absinthe and fruit juices. The flavor is similar to Campari or blood orange with an anise twist, refreshing and sweet-tart.

 I was a bit nervous when I saw the “art” featuring a pig mapped out in prime cuts.

What a pleasant surprise to see several dishes that were vegetarian and easily made vegan friendly like the Crispy Fingerling Potatoes or Blistered Shishito Peppers. If you’re craving something green, try  the Beet Salad or Nalo Mixed Greens.

The rest of the food warriors are carni/omni-viores so they ordered both the cheese and chacuterie platters.

The cocktail must have gone straight to my head because I ordered the Kahuku Corn Agnolotti without realizing it was in a cream sauce. Bummer! Luckily the food warriors gobbled it up. The next time I go back, I’ll see if it can be prepared sans dairy products.

No plant based desserts, but my friends shared the Tres Leche with black pepper semi-freddo.

Salt kitchen is a great spot for small bites and I’ll definitely be back for happy hour.

Salt Kitchen & Tasting Bar on Urbanspoon

Musubi @ Mana Bu’s

Mana Bu’s brings a welcome healthy twist to an island and personal favorite, Musubi. Monday thru Friday they open at the crack of dawn(6:30am) to start preparing different kinds of rice balls (musubi) and a small assortment of okazu ( veggie side dishes). Twelve varieties are made in the first round with white rice and classic ingredients like kombu (sea vegetable) and ume (pickled plum). The owner is from Japan and only indulges the Hawaiian yen for Spam musubi with a “Lite” version because he believes in real, whole food ingredients.

At 7:30am, Mana Bu’s starts to offer the brown rice and 10-grain musubis. There will soon be 29 different varieties to choose from! Fresh, high quality ingredients are featured on a  little card displaying  the origin of each ingredient used to prepare the food.

Weekdays at 8:00am, the full assortment of 35 kinds of musubi ( including organic rice), veggie okazu and desserts are ready. On Saturdays, they open at 9:00am and everything is available at that time. But get there early, weekday or weekend! There is a line before the store opens and since people buy at least a dozen or more at a time, they sell out quick. Closing time is 1:00pm but your favorites will be long gone before that.

 Veggie Okazu and dessert offerings: green bean salad, gobo, broccoli corn salad  and strawberry mochi

I tried the hijiki, ume, kombu, veggie curry, 10 grain and they were all oishii! If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be the veggie curry…with the hijiki as a close second. Musubi are great to take along on picnics, to the beach, on airplanes because they don’t require refrigeration ,rice fills you up and they’re cheap – $1.40-$1.70 each. Paired with a side veggie and a beverage, it’s the perfect take along meal.

Mana Bu’s
1618 S.King St.
Honolulu, HI 96826
ph: (808) 358-0287

CASH ONLY!

Mon-Fri 6:30a-1:00p/ Sat 9:00a-1:00p/CLOSED Sun,Holidays except for special orders

Mana Bu's on Urbanspoon

‘Ama ‘Ama at Disney Aulani Resort Ko’Olina

I traveled to the end of the world today, otherwise known as Ko’Olina resorts. You drive out heading Ewa, and then you drive some more until the landscape changes from a normal highway into an overly manicured tropical metropolis. You have now arrived at Disney’s first Hawaiian outpost, Aulani at Ko’Olina.

Since I don’t have children, I’m not really into Disney anything, so I was prepared to be thoroughly unimpressed. But, as soon as you step onto the property and you receive the first “Aloha!” from a crew member, you know they’ve set the bar pretty high. Need to know how to get somewhere? A staff member doesn’t just point the way, they walk you half-way there!

 

I was not staying overnight at the resort but was invited for lunch by my Aunty. There are only a couple of options on the property for lunch since the buffet is open for breakfast and dinner only.

We chose to dine  at Ama Ama which offers a limited menu but Chef Patrick came out and offered to veganize the Kahuku Corn Chowder and Lomi Tomato for me. They don’t have any salads ( except chicken salad-eww) on the menu, so again, Chef whipped up the prettiest “side salad” I have ever seen! Well, it probably looked better before I piled some sweet potato fries on the side. The watermelon radishes, sea asparagus, shaved papaya, green apple slices and heirloom tomatoes were delish with a splash of the papaya seed dressing. I was thrilled to learn that Disney is so accommodating for all sorts of dietary requests and noticed that you can send a note about special requests when you make table reservations online. If you forget to make reservations for dining, you will have to wait at least 10-15 minutes for a table.

 

It is possible to eat better than what’s on the menu, rather than settling for a boring meal to fit your plant based needs. Be brave and ask (nicely) for exactly what you want, without feeling like it’s a chore for the kitchen. Super bonus is that I’ve had the opportunity to meet some really amazing and talented chefs this way…and sometimes the Chef is pretty easy on the eyes!

 

 
'Ama 'Ama on Urbanspoon

Downtown@the HiSAM 

Downtown@the HiSAM brings owner Ed Kenney’s  “local first, organic whenever possible, and with aloha always” fare to downtown Honolulu. Get there early ( before 11:30) or make a reservation because this place is packed by noon with both the business lunch crowd and tourists wandering over from Iolani Palace.

For some reason, I was surprised at the lack of veg*n options on the menu. To keep it real, I did not walk up to the takeout counter to see if they had different offerings there. But I did mention to my server that I was looking for a veg option and he recommended the lentil soup. If it wasn’t 87 degrees and 90% humidity today, that may have sounded like a good option. Instead, I opted for the sampler platter with hummus, curried coconut eggplant and poi. All good, nothing great and the portion is kinda manini for $9.

Mediocre lunch aside, I would go back to Downtown just for dessert. The Grapefruit-Campari Sorbet was so incredible, I did the happy dance in my seat. As it melts on your tongue, it’s Campari…then it slides around your mouth and BAM! Grapefruit. $4 for two scoops.

Downtown @ The Hisam on Urbanspoon

My affair with Loving Hut

I know people adore Loving Hut but I’m still determining if I’m going to have the same relationship with the vegan restaurant chain that serves Asian style food in over 40 locations in the U.S. and 200 outlets worldwide. My first time I sampling the food was in Seattle and I remember it being pretty good. So, I called up my omnivore Aunty and invited her to lunch at the Pensacola St. location.

Me: Aunty, do you want to go to lunch?

Aunty: Where? (always suspect I’m taking her somewhere plant based)

Me: Asian food

Aunty: okay!

As we walked thru the front door of the small restaurant, my Aunt notices the big Vegan sign and says “You tricked me! You said we were going to eat Chinese food!” “No Aunty,” I say ” I said Asian food and this is!”

We shared a plate of Crispy Golden Rolls which seemed to put her at ease. If I ever go back, I’ll be ordering these ( see pic). 

After a lot of deliberation, she ordered the Pho ( soup)  which was very heavy flavored with star anise. Instead of the usual tendons and tripe, it’s served with seitan, tofu and a plate of accouterments to top the soup. Her rating on a scale of 1-10 was only a two.

I decided to have the Sea Vegetable Salad which finally arrived at the table a solid 10 minutes after the other people at my table got their soup. My hope was that it would be worth the wait, but it was a bit of a let down. The salad is pretty looking since they use a variety of seaweeds besides wakame but the dressing was flat and tasteless. I did bring it home to try and doctor it up, but what they served me was basically a pile of seaweed with a few cucumbers and not much else.

I read on their website :

Q: Why are the menus different at every Loving Hut? 
A: Every city is unique, and thus we believe in giving our Loving Huts’ chefs the freedom to create great local dishes and entrées. We want to bring out the best of all cultures and show that vegan dishes are not only healthy but great tasting too.

Which would also explain why the food can be super tasty at one location and bland beyond belief at another. On the up side, the staff is friendly and accommodating.

So my second visit at a Loving Hut was just “meh” but I still give them a six on a scale of 1-10 because I am happy to support a restaurant serving plant based food. I think if I go back I’ll try a sandwich or a smoothie…

Loving Hut on Urbanspoon