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
This one goes out to all the meat-eaters currently dating, married to or traveling with vegans in the hizzouse.
Prepare to become a hero.
It’s called Joy’s Place, and it’s in Kihei.
Located in a close-to-The-Cove-yet-difficult-to-find-unless-you-know-where-you’re-going-already location, it’s low on ambiance but high on collard greens.
Maybe ease into things with the Grilled Veggie Burger ($10.50).
Joy boasts that this little number comes with “our tangy artichoke spread” but we couldn’t taste the artichoke nor the time allegedly spent on a grill, which is a bummer.
All told, it’s a pretty standard veggie burger on sliced bread with a lot of raw veggies and unrepentantly messy as all hell.
Feeling more adventurous, are you?
Then sink your teeth into the Indo Crunch Collard Wrap ($11.50).
Marinated tempeh and a variety of veggies like cabbage, carrots and sprouts huddle together inside collard green which is then enclosed in a rice wrap. Dip it into some peanut sauce as your whims dictate.
It’s spring roll-ish, but heartier. You can’t go too wrong with this one, even if you’re the kind that prefers to snack on animals.
Want to get jiggy with it?
The Live Burrito Supreme ($10.95) will send you headlong into the land of raw food substitution.
What we have here involves a little imagination and several quotation marks: sunflower seed “refried beans” and cashew “sour cream” mingle inside a collard green “tortilla” along with some lettuce, avocado, onion, grated carrot, and sprouts.
The seeds provide a nice crunch, but in no way resemble beans and the cashew sour cream isn’t fooling anybody. That’s no problemo. The burrito is good stuff and it even turns out the collard green wrapper is enjoyable.
This brings us to the pièce de résistance, the Live Nut Burger ($10.50).
Let’s get down to brass tacks, kids: if blindfolded, even the most tastebud-less person you know would not begin to guess they were eating a “burger.”
This is a rehash of the burrito above, but in a slightly different shape.
Turns out collard greens are the bread of the raw universe.
One of those is filled with ground-up sprouted almonds and sunflower seeds and formed into a patty. A little garlic and salt wouldn’t hurt.
The “burger” shares its space with the ubiquitous sprouts and shredded carrots. There is also supposed to be avocado, onions, homemade live mustard and a fresh tomato tahini sauce.
Boo hoo, as ours was missing everything from the sentence right before this one but the tomato pasty stuff.
The net result wasn’t bad, but we can’t shake the feeling it would have been better if the missing components were included.
Perhaps it was short on its promised ingredients because it came from the case?
That wasn’t our choice, but when we placed the order we were pointed there along with a “it’s better to take it this way to go.”
In all honesty, we weren’t planning to go, but we now felt like we couldn’t stay. Sheepishly, we accepted our plastic wrapped “burger” and obliged.
Service is sporadic like this. Some of the ladies – one we suspect may be Joy herself – are sweet, friendly and enthusiastic. The one who sent us home? Not so much.
Anyway, back to you, Super Friend to Vegans and Natural Foodie Types.
Let’s say you aren’t into collard green wraps.
Let’s say you love cute little animals as much as any vegan or vegetarian does, but you eat them.
Cute little cows, toddler ducks, baby salmon and super adorable booboo baby quail: all nice to look at and even give the loves to when they’re alive, but then confoundingly delicious when cooked up and placed on a plate.
Joy doesn’t offer any of that, but she does make a Turkey Avocado Cheese sandwich ($11.50).
Replete with nitrate-free turkey, avocado, provolone cheese, mayo, and a whole bunch of veggies, it’s a solid sandwich, albeit spendy.
We don’t mind shelling out for the exotic raw concoctions, but $11.50 for a basic turkey sandwich – even one that’s nitrate free – is probably not a choice we’ll make twice.
More a smoothie person?
Joy has those too.
Always inclined to go big (even when being sent home), we went for the Green Power ($7.50). A mix of collard greens – those puppies weasel their way into everything – cucumber, avocado and bananas; we weren’t sure what to expect.
All in all, it was good… at least at first: narcotic banana mid-tones with a creamy mouth feel. However, once you swallow, a sadistic cabbagey finish with a strident bitter bite comes up hard and fast, leaving you shakey and afraid with a weird taste in your mouth and probably bad breath.
Maybe get the version with mint in it instead?
Get your collard greens on Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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)