July 12th, 2018

Vegan dining at its best!

When people think about food, most of them will zero in on a greater metropolitan area. For us on Oahu, that would be Honolulu! Most restaurants target these areas as the large majority of people on the island will travel in that direction, Yelping and Instagramming to find a spot to sink their teeth into and flash their cameras at. 

That’s great! As everyone is traveling downtown, you should take the road less traveled and head over the mountaintops to a magnificent windward community called Waimanalo. Tucked away, off Kalanianaole highway, is a VEGAN restaurant that can best be defined as THE BEST VEGAN RESTAURANT on Oahu! Stop by and say ALOHA to “‘AI LOVE NALO”! 

Looks Are Most Definitely Deceiving

When you pull up to the restaurant, your first response may be similar to mine, “okayyy”. The walls are clean. No hip graffiti art, no flowers adorning the windows, just a simple, sturdy building with parking out front for about 8-10 cars. 

What more do you really need? But don’t discount this place, as what you see on the outside is incomparable to what goes on inside the restaurant. 

Dive Right In 

Malia Smith is the owner of ‘Ai Love Nalo and along side of her chefs, they are creating custom made vegan dishes that can easily sway the taste buds of the pickiest eaters! 

When we stopped in, I wasn’t completely sure of what I was going to order as I’m not vegetarian or vegan. My friend who came along for the ride is vegan and therefore already had a good understanding of the menu and what she was going to order. 

On the other hand, as a “picky eater” I wanted to make sure I was going to be satisfied and not hungry afterwards! 

The Menu

Let’s Eat

After perusing the menu, I finally made a decision and let me tell you it was a fantastic choice! 

I ordered the “OH WOW LAU LAU” plate! It was slow-cooked local vegetables (like kalo (taro), u’ala (sweet potato), ulu (breadfruit) in luau leaves with your choice of poi, brown rice, millet or you can do half brown rice/half millet, tofu poke (plain or spicy) and fresh greens. 

My friend order the “MEDI BOWL” which consisted of Kalo falafel, fire-roasted baba ganoush, beet hummus, millet tabouleh over a bed of greens drizzled with a special creamy balsamic dressing. 

 A Little Treat In The End

At the end of our meal, we decided to be a little adventurous as EVERYTHING we put in our mouth just echoed of awesomeness! So, without further ado, we ordered the “Chia Seed Pudding Parfait” (look close as you’ll see a little avocado...a little surprising but the combination was outstanding).

Inside this compostable cup was coconut milk & chia seeds with layered fruit, (papaya, pineapple, banana, sweet potato, and avocado (when available), topped with a home made granola and cacao coconut flakes and honey.  

Don’t Miss The Outdoors

After your meal, be sure to explore the grounds and step outside of the dining facility. In the back of the restaurant, you’ll find a wonderland of spacious green life! 

My Final Thoughts

Anytime you talk about eating vegetarian or vegan with non-vegan or non-vegetarians, you may hear a few responses… “I gotta have my meat” or “I’m gonna get hungry later” or “I need more than vegetables in my meal”. I’m familiar with these responses because I was one of those who made them. After dining at ‘AI LOVE NALO, I found myself willing to give a second look at eating differently. This clean eating is not just good for your body, but it tastes outrageous! Malia and the chefs at ‘AI LOVE NALO have really given much thought to the their menu and flavor profiles. The combinations of textures and flavors really enhanced each dish, allowing you to truly enjoy every bite. The variety of colors on the plates also made it very noteworthy of social media and inviting for those looking for a succulent photo shoot! 

Stop by and give ‘AI LOVE NALO a taste for yourself!