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Choice Health Bar May Blow Your Mind

May 31, 2013, 10:35 AM HST · Updated May 31, 1:34 PM
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Vanessa Wolf is a former head chef. She offers her frank assessments in the interests of honesty and improving Maui’s culinary scene.

By Vanessa Wolf

The O.G. Acai Bowl in to-go form. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The O.G. Acai Bowl in to-go form, for when you need to get your clean living on on the run. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

Alright stop whatcha doin’

’cause I’m about to ruin

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The image and the style that ya used to.

Was Shock G foreshadowing the existence of this acai bowl – aptly named “the O.G.” – when he uttered these words back in 1990?

Obviously, the answer to that question is “yes.”

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If you are a person who generally enjoys dining upon things that have had parents, when you first hear about the all-vegetarian (often vegan or even raw), all-the-time Choice Health Bar your first thought may be, “Make me a reservation for Never:30.”

We feel you.

Still, by skipping a stop at Choice Health Bar, you may as well say no to life.

That OG Acai bowl ($8)?

Get a load of this madness: frozen acai berries– an Amazonian “superfood” that had its heyday via Oprah and Dr. Oz a few years back – blended up and topped with granola, bananas, and honey.

The Buddha Bowl. Buddha would probably approve. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Buddha Bowl. Buddha would probably approve. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

Sounds like hippie nonsense, and maybe it is, but it’s also cool, icy and refreshing.

The super light crispy bits of granola offset the sorbet-ish base and the bananas get in there and ***drool***

It’s a delight.

There’s something about finding such an anomalous combination of temperatures, textures and flavors in your mouth that is oddly exhilarating.

The Green Buzz ($10) is more of the same, but with the added additions of mixed berries, spirulina, and coconut water.

Presuming it’s healthy (This isn’t like one of those ‘frozen yogurt that makes you fat’ scandals in the making, right? Right??) there is the heady feeling that you’re pulling something over on someone.

On the less frozen/sweet side of the coin, Choice Health Bar offers a daily Buddha Bowl ($11 on our visit or market price).

The Wildflower Taco Plate sounds like something a child would offer you at a tea party, but it's actually darn good eating. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Wildflower Taco Plate sounds like something a child would offer you at a tea party, but it actually tastes like food. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

This is an illogical layering of the daily specials (grains, soup, and salad) that somehow becomes obvious genius once you taste it.

On this occasion, layer one consisted of coconut quinoa. It was topped by some vegan Maui onion soup and upon that rested the dubious-sounding (especially in May) Holiday Spice Kale Salad.

Suspicion was a wasted emotion, however, as the whole irrational mess blended in perfect harmony.

What the hell?

How can quinoa, vegan soup, and a salad consisting of kale, arugula, Fiji apples, cranberries, ‘caRAWmelized’ Maui onions, pecans and “Thanksgiving herbal dressing” synchronize in a savory and sweet hallelujah? It is a mystery for the ages.

Don’t try to apply logic.

Just accept that it’s a wild world and go see for yourself.

The all-raw “Wildflower Taco Plate” ($12/MP) was approached with equal (unnecessary) trepidation.

The pumpkin seed Mexi “meat” was some sort of faux meat made out of – presumably – pumpkin seeds, spices, and who knows? Pixie dust? File it under ‘who cares’ because it will make your taste buds feel like they’re dropping Molly at a rave.

It’s crazy good – fresh and flavorful and yes, Mexican-ish – and the crunch of the nuts makes it seem like something far heartier than raw fare.

The pumpkin seed meat mix was hard to keep inside the slippery greens (“taco shell”), but we could still eat these daily so long as we didn’t have to breathe near anyone. Holy garlic breath, Batman.

The vinegar was too heavy-handed on the salad, but there was a generous portion of avocado and that more or less canceled out the excess of sour.

The Hawaiian Punch Elixir doesn't taste like any Hawaiian Punch we've ever had, but that's probably a good thing. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Hawaiian Punch Elixir doesn’t taste like any Hawaiian Punch we’ve ever had, but that’s probably a good thing. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

Most surprisingly, the meal leaves you feeling satisfied in an “instant clean-living” way. Visions of biking to work, actually using your juicer, and scaling Kilimanjaro suddenly fill your head.

The Hawaiian punch health elixir ($5) had us at elixir. Factually, it’s a blended drink of lemon, lime, strawberries, pineapple, honey and ice. It’s sweet and tart and presumably also good for you.

Hey, the place has “Health” in the title. We’re going to stop second-guessing and take it on faith.

Tucked into a non-nondescript mini-mall near Taco Bell in Lahaina, the space is lovely and filled with big wooden tables and lots of light. The staff is cheerful and friendly and willing to explain the menu, no doubt dozens of times a day.

Prices are reasonable considering the quality and intricacy of the food.

Meat fans will be surprised by this place, and people trying to stick to resolutions will feel like they’ve gamed the system.

We welcome your feedback. Please let us know if you hear of any new restaurants opening or reopening, total menu overhauls, or simply know of a hidden treasure you want to share. Have a restaurant you want reviewed (or re-reviewed)? Drop us a line – Vanessa(@mauinow.com)

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