When I think of island cuisine, I don’t usually consider vegetarian options but my good friend recommended it to me, which is much more direction than I usually get when going to a new restaurant, so I decided to try it.
After a horrible dining experience that day I decided to try again hoping that my taste buds would forgive me. I went to Hula’s Modern Tiki on North Central Avenue in downtown Phoenix and was instantly drawn in by the modern outdoor ambiance. It felt like a rooftop restaurant with all of the surrounding high-rise buildings, except it wasn’t. Rejoice acrophobics!
I was impressed by the multiple vegetarian options on the menu, sometimes I’m lucky if there is one option available, let alone two but I was pleasantly surprised to find five vegetarian options on the dinner menu. I ordered the $10 Big Sur Black Bean Burger with sweet potato fries and my dining partner had the $11 Spicy Tofu Tacos with black beans over white rice.The house-made veggie patty was topped with grilled maui onions, shiitake mushrooms, jack cheese, sun-dried tomato pesto aioli and avocado, which I added just because. This is exactly why I love trying new places, you never know when your new favorite meal is just one restaurant away. This veggie burger is officially my favorite. I’ve probably tried every veggie burger at every place from In-n-out’s patty-less burger to Fat Burger’s Boca patty burger and even my own attempts at a home made patty. This one was perfection. It was a fusion of flavors, and textures, which I expect in any meal. I have not one criticism of the burger I didn’t even notice that it had shiitake mushrooms, as opposed to other kinds that don’t leave the aftertast thtat shiitake mushrooms do. The sweet onions gave the burger its island flare, while the aioli gave it a gourment touch. As if that wasn’t enough, I had it with sweet potato fries. I don’t usually like fries, I can’t eat them without a huge sense of guilt but with sweet potato fries that is a different story entirely. This selection was perfection! I don’t like tofu. People often ask what kind of vegetarian doesn’t like tofu? This kind. A palate for tofu doesn’t follow being vegetarian. I was hoping the tofu tacos would be tasty considering the tofu was seasoned and topped with taco slaw and sun-dried tomato pesto aioli on corn tortillas. Unfortunately the verdict is blah. Is there a word for less than blah? If so, please apply here _________. The taco slaw and aioli sauce were unsuccessful in flavoring the tofu. “Tofu has very little flavor and will take on the flavors of your recipe which is why tofu is so versatile,” according to Nasoya, a leading tofu producer. A dash of seasoning on top will certainly not suffice. Tofu’s consistency can vary from soft to extra firm, on the rare occasion that I enjoy tofu it is extra firm. I don’t enjoy soft variations of tofu because it dissolves in my mouth and not in a good way. The black beans were, well, black beans and void of any exciting flavor, they were placed on top of some more blandness–I mean white rice. I can say that the beans weren’t canned, which is more than I can say about the pathetic excuse for salsa that was included on the side.
On a scale from one to 10 the burger definitely gets a 10 while the tacos get a 3 so that’s a 6.5 average. If you want a 10 experience go for the burger. If you’re void of taste buds go ahead and try the tofu tacos… at least they’re healthy.