Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Vegan Options at Pearl Highlands Center

I’ve always loved vegetables. Even as a child, my parents never had to force me to eat them. I often find myself interested in seeking out vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based options because of this.

Living in town for most of my adult life, I’ve been spoiled with the abundance of dietary options; however, when I make my way back home to Pearl City, I have a hard time finding something without meat or seafood. This past weekend, I was thrilled and shocked to find some vegan options at Pearl Highlands Center’s food court. It’s also been a while since I visited this food court, so I was really happy to see how the renovation turned out. Here’s what the food court looks like now if you haven’t been in a few years like me:

Highlands Market food court at Pearl Highlands Center in Pearl City, Hawaii
The Highlands Market Food Court is on the top floor of the Pearl Highlands Shopping Center.

My first stop for a vegan dish was at Up Roll Café. They have only one vegan protein option: vegan inari (fried tofu skin). I’ve had some lackluster tofu poke in my life, so I wasn’t expecting much, but their inari was seasoned in a sweet tamari sauce that made it very enjoyable. I chose the umami shoyu as my sauce not knowing that it was already going to be seasoned, but if I were to go back, I’d probably get spicy mayo. I got the iced mamaki tea to drink and loved the subtle taste.

Vegan inari poke bowl from Up Roll Cafe in Pearl City, Hawaii
Pictured from left to right: Vegan Inari Bowl and Iced Mamaki Tea from Up Roll Café

My second stop was The Elephant Shack. They have two vegan items: the vegan lab and the ganesha pad Thai. Both of these were so well-seasoned, tangy, and delicious. The lab had generous amounts of herbs and the pad Thai was the perfect mix of tangy, sweet, and salty. I highly recommend the lab as someone who loves herbs and often asks for extra. I didn’t have to or feel the need to! I also got a Thai iced coffee because who can eat all this food and not feel tired after?! I needed to make sure I didn’t have a kanak attack in the middle of the day.

Vegan thai food from The Elephant Shack in Pearl City, Hawaii
Pictured from left to right: Vegan Lab, Thai Iced Coffee, Ganesha Pad Thai

Overall, I was very happy with all of the things I tried. The portions were incredibly generous and I had leftovers to take home for the next day.

I hope to see more vegan options pop up on the west side!

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