Food La La: International Vegan Dinner Club
BY LINDSEY MURAOKA / Special to the Star-Advertiser
I recently started following vegan Hawaii Facebook groups to connect with other vegans and research more about the lifestyle. That’s how I learned about the International Vegan Dinner Club, held Tuesdays (except the second Tuesday of the month) at Coffeeline inside the YMCA at 1820 University Ave.
Run by Chef Madana Sundari, the International Vegan Dinner Club is a buffet that showcases a different cuisine from around the world. All dishes are vegan, gluten free and organic when possible. It costs $13.50 per person.
“I’ve always wanted to collaborate with my friend (and Coffeeline owner) Dennis Suyeoka for a long time now,” said Sundari. “We finally decided this year to try out a vegan buffet. It’s been pretty successful. It’s become like a family. Everyone knows everyone but still open to meeting new people.
“I make sure to do countries that aren’t closely related so that the food is different from the previous week. Last week was Greece, this week was Ethiopia.”
This week’s menu consisted of tikil gomun (Ethiopian ginger vegetables), missir wat (red lentils), injera (flat bread), telba (a flax seed beverage) and dates topped with almonds for dessert. Even though it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet (until the food runs out!), I got full from one serving. I especially liked scooping up the red lentils into the injera.
I love dates because they are naturally very sweet. Many vegan baked goods like bread and muffins are made using dates instead of sugar or honey.
Next week’s theme is in honor of Cinco de Mayo! The menu includes pozole (a traditional flavor rich soup), chili relleno, arroz rojo Mexicano (spiced rice), fiesta slaw and tortilla chips and dip. Polvorones de Canele ( cinnamon cookies) and arroz con leche (sweet rice pudding) will be served for dessert.
Chef Madana has been a vegetarian since the 1970s and learned how to cook vegan cuisine after she moved into a Hale Krishna temple in California at the age of 18.
“I didn’t want to eat animals or hurt them and that’s the main reason I became vegan,” she said. “Back then, there wasn’t much vegan food around, so I had to learn how to cook and did a lot of research to learn how to make different cultures cuisines.”
Originally from Pennslyvania, she moved to California then came to Hawaii to help with a Hale Krishna temple here.
“I feel like I was meant to be here in Hawaii,” she said. “I love it and I feel like I am at home.”
Now she works as a private chef with her own vegan catering business called Creative Cuisine. She caters for weddings, events and private clients who want specially created meals based on their dietary needs.
I asked if she had any advice for aspiring vegans.
“Don’t make it complicated,” she replied. “There is more food that is vegan than non-vegan. Make sure to eat a well balanced and nutritious diet. Start slow and simple”.
Sundari offers nutritional counseling as well as private meals and catering. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Lindsey Muraoka blogs about all things vegetarian for the Pulse. Follow her on Twitter or email her at email@example.com.