Broke Da Mout

Hawaiians simply have a way with words. Direct but gentle, and often spoken with a good dose of humor, every statement seems to come with a built-in smile at the end. Said in Pidgin with island inflection, “broke da mout” (“break the mouth”) is in fact a compliment to the chef. Not nearly as painful as it may let on, the phrase suggests that you’ve eaten something so unfathomably delicious, or eaten such vast quantities of it, that you simply couldn’t stand to take another bite. Ergo, your palate has been thoroughly spoiled, in the most satisfying way. I can report without hesitation that I thoroughly broke my own mouth to the fullest extent of the definition while in Honolulu.

Lured out by the familiar urge to discover new ono grindz (good eats), every step of my two mile walk to reach Greens & Vines was worth the effort. Born of the 100% raw vegan catering company Licious Dishes, this dine-in outpost is only a few months old, still glistening with that new restaurant shine. Glowing like a beacon on a dark night, the neon sign out front is quite arresting, especially for the unprepared. Already on my hit list, it was a sight I was unprepared for as I gazed blankly out the bus window.

“Oh, that’s the restaurant right there!” I exclaimed in spite of myself, to no one in particular. It would clearly require a more thorough exploration at a later time, especially without those lovely people sharing public transit who were now convinced of my mental instability.

After miscalculating the distance from my hotel rather drastically, it ended up being a later meal than anticipated, but gave me plenty of time to work up an appetite. Good thing too, since just one plateful of Kaffir Miso Pad Thai, composed of kelp noodles and topped off with a generous handful of crunchy cashews, left me feeling quite stuffed. Taking my time to luxuriate in every slippery strand, the effusively friendly staff made me feel more than welcome to linger, as opposed to so many other establishments that saw the single vegan diner as a burden. One gets a real sense of community here, proof positive that veganism is alive and thriving in all pockets of the world.

Although I already broke da mout on my main dish, the temptation of the dessert menu was too much to bear. Wrapping up a petite wedge of Tangerine Cheesecake to go, it became a most decadent midnight snack just a few hours later. Flawlessly smooth, creamy, and sparkling with citrus zest, its small size belied immense flavor. More than enough to satisfy even my voracious sweet tooth, what initially seemed like a scant portion turned out to be just right.

The raw movement may still be in its infancy in Honolulu, but endless other clean, green options can be readily found hidden in amongst the puka dog and saimin stands. Peace Cafe serves up well-balanced meals with a macrobiotic sort of slant, featuring otherwise obscure flavors like matcha and kinako to create vegan treats found no where else.

Speaking of which, the Iced Matcha Latte is an absolute must for any hot day, which is pretty much every day on the island. Lightly sweetened just to cut the bitter edge of the powdered green tea, soy milk lends body to the beverage, making it both refreshing and wholly satisfying. If only I had ventured out to this part of town sooner, I’m certain I would have found many excuses to return for a second and third refill.

Mochi brownies displayed alluringly on the counter did look like an awfully attractive lunch option, but the savory dishes are worth holding out for. Before ever setting foot in the shop, I already knew that I wanted the Heart and Seoul entree: Inspired by Korean bibimbap, a power plate of greens, both raw and cooked, beansprouts, shredded carrots, and either fresh tofu or TVP over a bed of brown rice. Ever indecisive, I stood there hemming and hawing at the counter, until the cashier helpfully broke my strained silence. “I could get you a little bit of both, too- How about that?” she asked sweetly. Yes, please; I felt like I really could have it all in that moment. Both were utterly delightful, but being the tofu-lover that I am, I would spring for a full portion of only that silky-soft bean curd next time. Topped off with a healthy dollop of very mild gochujang to mix and mash at will, the diner has the freedom to mix in as much of that salty paste as their heart desires. Naturally, I devoured every last smudge.

What’s most telling about how vegan-friendly a city is, however, is not the number of specialty shops or isolated outposts. Rather, it’s what one can scavenge in the everyday eateries, even the mundane or most unpromising locations. While the Ala Moana Mall is no average shopping center, boasting hundreds of stores spread out for what seems like miles, the above platter is still an incredible testament to how open and accessible Honolulu is to the compassionate visitor or resident. Grylt Ala Moana, located in the Makai Food Court, is one of three locations within Honolulu. In true cafeteria style, you’re encouraged to build your own plate, picking between proteins, sides, and sauces. Grilled Tofu is the way to go to avoid animal protein, and incredibly, you can actually choose Olive Oil Mashed Cauliflower over plain white rice, if desired. For just 50 cents more, it’s more than worth the upgrade. Grilled Veggies are already so expertly seasoned with balsamic vinegar and black pepper, it seems a shame to cover them with any additional sauce, despite how bright and vivacious the Citrus Herb Oil was. Request it on the side to dip the tofu in, and you’ll have the perfect complement to all components.

Next, we’re jetting off to another island… The Big Island, in fact, for a stop in Hilo. Still more photos are being uploaded everyday, so please keep checking in to see all of my adventures!

25 thoughts on “Broke Da Mout

  1. It’s pretty amazing how you can make food served on a paper plate look utterly fabulous! All of those eats look mouth-watering, especially that Pad Thai (I’m a sucker for it). I hope that you continue to enjoy your time in Hawaii!!

  2. That iced matcha tea is calling my name! So bright & cool looking. & all the eats look beautiful as well–maybe a bit healthier than I’d normally go for, but that’s definitely a good thing, especially on an island with so much fresh food!!

  3. I am scared! Boke da mout means exactly what I initially thought it meant! Maybe I was Hawaiian in a past life ;). “Kafir miso Pad Thai”…HEAVEN! I pinched a bit of my adventurous daughters powdered matcha when I was last in town…time to add a bit to some almond milk methinks :). A new food word for me…”Kinako” (Hannah has most cleverly made it so I can’t right click and open it in another tab and read it before I finish her sterling post ;) )…I LOVE Korean food! My daughters and I are enarmoured of its simple healthy cleanness and how delicious it is. Love the post, love the series of posts from the exciting islands and love that you are personalising your vegan journey and making it easier for the next vegan to immediately plot their degustatory events without having to trawl the yellow pages to hopefully find something worth putting into their mouths…your photo’s certainly sell their food Hannah! I would order in, if it didn’t take 10 days to get here and be completely inedible when it got here! ;). Looking forwards to posts from “The Big Island” (obviously this is where Hannah meets Dog the Bounty Hunter… gotta say, I don’t like your chances Dog! Hannah might be a small package but MAN she packs a vegan punch! ;) )

  4. I am in love with matcha tea so that latte is like a dream beverage for me! All the food looks amazing. Your posts, stories and photos are making me want to get on a plane to Hawaii right now!

  5. Looks like quite the Hawaiian adventure you’ve got going there, everything looks fabulous. I’ve only have a couple of times long ago and I don’t remember seeing all of those vegan options. Glad there’s a lot more nowadays!

  6. Oh my gosh, kinako! Frick I love that stuff! When my brother lived in Japan, he’d send me care packages of all kinds of treats flavoured with kinako. I still remember the light-as-air crispy rice treats powdered in kinako I ate while studying for an exam at UVA….

    See, I’m talking about kinako so much because I’m deeply upset over the flavour of cheesecake you picked. ;)

  7. Thanks Hannah. I, too, had the Heart and Seoul at Peace Cafe while on Oahu last month, with the fresh tofu, and broke da mout on it, too. Your photos, as always, reawaken memories in the taste buds.

  8. so many things i have to try when i make trip to honululu! agree with jackie.. that paper plate full of goodies is jumpiing out right at me to grab some! i need food.

  9. It sounds like you’re having an amazing time! And only you could make fast food look as if it had been expertly styled! :D Everything looks fantastic. I want to go there! :)

  10. I can definitely believe that that tangerine cheesecake made an excellent midnight snack, yum. I’ve never considered / heard of an iced matcha latte before but now I want one more than anything!

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