The coolest cuisine

Columns What's Cooking?

January 11, 2015

Story By: Rachel Breit |

You won’t find boiling pots, blazing ovens or sizzling skillets anywhere near this kitchen. Instead, blenders, food processors and dehydrators do the heavy lifting.

Baffling as it may sound, Greens & Vines is a restaurant that doesn’t actually cook anything. As a raw vegan eatery, heating food above 118 degrees is strictly forbidden. The saying, “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen,” does not apply here.

Eschewing animal products in favor of cashews, other nuts, fruits and vegetables, raw vegan cuisine is the “epitome of health,” says owner and chef Sylvia Thompson. Dishes are made from basic components, which means no hidden ingredients.

“You get the whole plant-based food that we transform into gourmet meals, complete with all the uncooked vitamins, antioxidants, phytonutrients, minerals and fiber,” she explains.

Emphasis here on “gourmet” because, despite offering course after course of foods uncooked, what’s served is a far cry from bland crudités. On the contrary, the gluten-free vegan dishes burst with freshness and brim over with imagination and creativity. After all, it takes ingenuity to turn a French classic such as escargot into vegetable form.

In the case of the restaurant’s mainstay dish, an Italian favorite gets a major makeover. The result, Living Lasagna ($18), where thin-sliced zucchini are repurposed as noodles. Pesto, sun-dried tomato marinara, macadamia nut ricotta made of Big Island-sourced nuts, spinach and sliced tomatoes nestled between the layers of faux pasta — 12 luscious layers in all — evoke the same flavors and textures of the original, and make for a piece so substantive you eat it with a serrated knife.

Similarly, the ageold favorites, cheese and crackers, as well as bagels and lox, take on a new life. In Mac Nut “Cheeze” and Apple Slices ($8.50, part of an upcoming catering menu), slices of Granny Smith and Gala apples are paired with a dehydrated blend of macadamia nuts, red bell peppers, lime juice, nutritional yeast and sea salt. Edible rosemary flowers picked from Thompson’s mom’s garden adorn the plate.

Another appetizer, Bagels with Cashew Kreme, Capers and Veggies ($8.50), features an ingenious combination of flax and sunflower seeds, almonds, carrots, bell peppers, olives and seasonings spread with a velvety cashew mix and topped with capers, thin-sliced tomato, cucumbers and red onions.

There’s much more to be sampled from the eatery, each as meticulously crafted and vibrant as the next. Starting Jan. 25, share your new found or existing love of plant-based diets every last Sunday of the month from noon to 2 p.m. at a potluck hosted at Greens & Vines. Thompson invites you to bring a vegan dish to share (“no meat, dairy, fish or fowl”) and stay for an educational movie, guest speaker or discussion on issues related to health and the environment.

Greens & Vines Raw Vegan Gourmet

909 Kapiolani Blvd., Unit B, Honolulu
Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (lunch) and 5-9 p.m. (dinner)
Closed Sundays

Honolulu, HI 96814

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best