The Blossoming Lotus, Vegan and Raw Food Restaurant, featured in paper
The DailyBulletin, a newspaper out of Ontario, Canada, recently spotlighted The Blossoming Lotus, a vegan and raw food restaurant located on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Excerpt below…
KAPAA, Hawaii – If you stay in Kauai long enough, you'll hear locals talk about the power of Hawaii's oldest island. There's a sense of wisdom and spirituality in the soil, and it makes its way into the lush, abundant produce grown here.
The best place to experience the bounty of Kauai's harvests this fall is the Blossoming Lotus. The vegan and raw food restaurant is a mainstay in Kapaa, a coastal town on the east side of the island. It offers gourmet world-fusion cuisine made without meat, eggs or dairy products. In the restaurant's raw or "live food" dishes, nothing is heated above 116 degrees, which preserves key enzymes.
The Blossoming Lotus is the first green-certified restaurant in all of Hawaii. There are no Styrofoam products, and the proprietors use nontoxic cleansers and recyclable goods. At one point, they had biodegradable cutlery made from corn and wheat. Their recipes have won awards from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Gourmand Magazine and VegNews, and their vegan chefs are considered among the best in the world. High society and Birkenstock-wearing folk alike flock here for the food.
"It's not one of those dirty hippie places," said Lanaly Cabalo, food writer for Kauai's hometown paper, the Garden Island. In fact, it's a favorite celebrity hangout. Pierce Brosnan, Leonardo di Caprio, Mike D. from the Beastie Boys and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have trekked down from the exclusive Princeville resort in the north to feast on healthy food into which you can sink your teeth.
Head chef Mark Reinfeld grew up eating beef and poultry and has reinvented comfort foods like enchilada casserole that appeal to a heavier palate. He uses familiar textures and flavors like barbecue and peanut sauce to win over customers. One of Reinfeld's favorite dishes is spanakopita. The savory Greek pie is made with marinated tofu and organic island greens layered between flaky phyllo and drizzled with a sun-dried tomato and sage sauce.
"Foodies can appreciate it just as cuisine," Reinfeld said. "And the fact that it's food for your soul and you feel great afterward is just an added bonus." Other ingenious creations include an all-vegetable lasagna and pad Thai noodles made with julienned young coconut flesh.
For lunch, nothing beats the tempeh Reuben and meatless BLT sandwich. The hearty, thick-sliced bread is made with spelt flour, a wheat-free alternative, and dotted with fresh rosemary and parsley. The Russian dressing is cloying yet doesn't weigh you down, and has a full, fresh flavor. Plus it's dairy-free, so lactose-intolerant customers can enjoy the rich, creamy sauce without suffering indigestion.
Another must-try is the dense, nutty cornbread. It's spiked with cilantro and chili, and served with homemade apple butter. "It's foreign to some people until they actually taste the food," Reinfeld said. "I think we demystify the whole idea of what can be done with vegan and vegetarian food."
The restaurant incorporates a lot of local produce into its cuisine. Kauai is home to the wettest place on Earth – about 486 inches of rain fall each year on Mount Waialeale. Mountains and fields dotted with green pastures stretch for miles, and native farmers deliver the best of their crops to the Lotus each morning.
"People say our food has a lot of mana, or energy from the land," Reinfeld said. "It's very rejuvenating, and revitalizing." The restaurant is experimenting with autumn vegetables this month, so expect to find a variety of tender squashes and sweet potatoes on the menu. There's something for every palate here, from soups and salads to curry and tacos. It's a great gourmet alternative to the traditional Hawaiian fare of fried chicken cutlets, white rice and macaroni salad.
For an extra-healthy pick-me-up, try the 31-herb Lotus Roots Tonic, with dandelion root, ginseng, cinnamon and ginger. Another refreshing option is the passion fruit lemonade or Tahitian limeade. If you're in a lazy mood on Sunday morning, visit the Lotus for brunch -and such treats as almond orange spice french toast made with spelt cinnamon raisin bread, crepes, pecan sticky buns and scalloped sweet potatoes.
And make sure you end any meal with something sweet. Even if you're not a fan of sweets, the Lotus' desserts will knock you out. Try the vegan cheesecake, live fudge or live fruit pie. Lotus chefs make "fudge" by blending raw cacao bean with coconut oil and agave nectar. Served with a swirl of raspberry sauce, the opulent, silky-smooth concoction melts in your mouth as an explosion of cocoa and natural sugar rushes to your head. In the fruit pie, a moist, chewy crust of nuts and grains is filled with a lush puree of euphoric blueberry and papaya. And for chocolate freaks, the Lotus' dense German chocolate cake really hits the spot.
"I challenge people to tell the difference," Reinfeld said. "People really bliss out on that cake. It's so rich and delicious you would never know it's healthy until afterward, when it doesn't weigh you down the same way."