Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Healthy is tasty at HiBlend Health Bar & Cafe

Nadine Kam photos
HiBlend’s Aloha Bowl ($12.50) is a triple combination of acai, pitaya and poi, which really works here, the taro flavor shining through, along with the tropical flavors of mango, pineapple and papaya in addition to strawberries, blueberries and kiwi. It’s finished with honey, mint, granola, chia seeds and bee pollen. Share it with a friend.


Through their HiBlend Health Bar & Cafe, brothers Joey and Miles Sugahara and Jason Chang seem out to prove once and for all that healthy can be tasty and satisfying.

It’s not so hard to get people to drink up juices and smoothies because they’re refreshing and typically sweet, but on the food side, dishes deemed healthy generally taste green, a color and flavor profile that repels lifelong meat eaters.

Brothers Joey, left, and Miles Sugahara. Joey said he was always into fitness but only recently became interested in the nutrition aspect of health, and by walking the talk espoused by the cafe, dropped 40 pounds in six months.

Knowing that, HiBlend offers a range of dishes so diners can get a vegan salad if they wish, but those attempting to transition from an unhealthy diet to a more healthful one do have access to fish, small amounts of bacon and cheese to help greens go down easier.

Joey’s savory dressings also increase the flavor quotient.

I love this place for its combination of juices and food. I, for one, cannot survive on a liquid diet. For balance, I need food and most juice bars don’t offer any food, or they offer cursory to-go sandwiches, salads and pastries. Chances are those are refrigerated or hours-old or otherwise unpalatable.

Here, food is made fresh to order and always tasty, and Joey said the road to good health starts with changing your relationship with food by recognizing what food is in the first place. It’s not about the artificial or the processed. Borrowing from the Paleo philosophy of eating only what our forebears would have recognized as food, it means starting with fresh produce and studying labels to make sure you are getting food, not fillers and chemicals with names you don’t understand.

HiBlend uses certified and non-GMO products sources local organic ingredients from Wally’s Farm in Hawaii Kai. Here’s a sampling of what’s on the table:

Candy Greens and a Red Dragon Smoothie. Candy Greens was formulated with kids in mind, a drink that incorporates spinach and kale with the sweetness of apple and pear juices so you don’t notice the greens. The smoothie features pitaya, organic grapes, oranges and lilikoi.

Caprese plus! The classic salad of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil is enhanced with capers, red onions and feta, served over mixed greens with three dressings: garlic citrus aioli, balsamic vinaigrette and pesto.

This is my favorite dish, ahi tartare served in a half avocado over spinach. The ahi itself is spiked with capers and red onions, and coated with a creamy housemade Caesar dressing.

I also love the smoked salmon and bacon sandwich served on sourdough bread with tomato, avocado, spinach and a bit of cream cheese, with your choice of the eight house dressings listed below.

The BALT is a BLT with avocado, kale and Pepper Jack on croissant with your choice of eight house dressings: pesto, pesto aioli, garlic citrus aioli, kale pesto, smoked pepper aioli, avocado aioli and kale pesto aioli.

The watermelon pizza salad features spinach, blueberries, kiwi, strawberries and pear with crumbled goat cheese and raspberry vinaigrette, sprinkled with chia seeds and bee pollen. Finish the rind, which is said to be very nutritious.

So healthy and tasty, the Veganese salad of kale, shredded carrots, cucumbers, green apples, celery, red onions, peanuts and mint, with a Thai peanut dressing.

The Dragon Bowl starts with dragonfruit, or pitaya, topped with strawberries, blueberries, banana, coconut, granola, toasted coconut and honey sourced from rescued bees.

A trio of health shots is also available. These are kick-ass Zester shots of apple, lemon and spicy ginger, at $2.50 a pop. (The boot is about a thumb high.) The other shots are a ginger shot with apple, and Pineapple Express, with pineapple, ginger and mint.

HiBlend Health Bar & Cafe is in the Samsung Plaza at 661 Keaaumoku St., #105A. Call (808) 721-7303. Visit hiblendcafe.com.

Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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