Restaurant Review: ‘Ai Love Nalo

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Restaurant Review: ‘Ai Love Nalo

Alana Kahiapo, Contributing Writer

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 Today’s vegan society is composed mainly of animal activists, health freaks, and skinny hipsters. The vegan scene is very prevalent throughout Hawai’i, especially being an environment that is centered around clean, locally-sourced, and organic food. Located in God’s country Waimānalo, “Ai Love Nalo“ is a Hawaiian-based vegan eatery that truly embodies the relationship between health and culture.

         Upon entrance, you’ll be welcomed by the fragrant smell of fresh herbs into a comfy, kitchen-like atmosphere, where the waitress will greet you. If you sit beside the window, you can peer into the backyard that houses a garden with varieties of herbs, each breeze bringing you sweet basil and rosemary.

         As for food selection, their menu integrates many flavors of the true Hawaiian essence, such as fresh kalo (taro), ‘ulu (breadfruit), ‘ōlena (turmeric), ‘uala (sweet potato), and niu(coconut). These local everyday staple foods are not only delicious, but pack a heavy amount of nutrients, especially in contrast to typical local dishes, which usually include oily meats drenched in teriyaki sauce, and heaped onto an oversized serving of white rice. With Hawai’i’s epidemic of diabetes and heart problems, we could definitely use more eateries that demonstrate health with a local touch. (Also, I must add that this is one of the only vegan eateries swarming with even non-vegans.)

         A dish such as the “Medi Bowl” features toasted kalo falafels accompanied by a few selections of relishes, and decorated over a vibrant bed of fresh lettuce and vegetables. The falafels themselves burst with hearty, irresistible flavors such as the sweet starchiness of the kalo, as well as the crunchy grain and texture of chickpeas. However, it’s only appropriate to plunge into the array of sauces, which includes a decadent bright magenta beet hummus, fire-roasted baba ganoush, and a refreshing millet tabbouleh. Each sauce completely changes the dish and brings you on a different adventure. The medi bowl truly earned its place as a #1 best seller.

         They also have a unique take on the typical portobello burger, which includes a rich, woody barbecue sauce, and a sweet coconut slaw that really marries the intense flavors together.

         As for desserts, the fall season calls for pumpkin spice, and their vegan pumpkin spice milkshake is sure to satisfy any meal. Earthy pumpkin flavors, complemented by ecstatic hints of turmeric and cinnamon, dazzled with sweet dates, and finally, garnished with dates and coconut shrivels. The perfect ending to a feast full of non-guilty pleasures.

 

‘Ai Love Nalo

Location

41-1025 RT-72 Waimanalo, HI  96795 United States

Prices

Plates, Salads, Sandwiches ~ $11-14

Breakfast, Desserts ~ $2-9

Drinks ~ $4-8

Times

Open Monday to Sunday, from 10:30am to 5pm

Suggested Dishes

  • Medi Bowl $14.00
  • BBQ Portobello Sandwich $13.00
  • Açai Parfait $7.00
  • Out of This Swirled Soft Serve $5.00