By Linda Bladholm
Fans of Morningside’s Honey Tree health food store begin rushing in around noon, making a beeline for the back, where big stainless-steel pans are loaded with about a dozen vegetarian dishes daily. Owner Michelle Mora offers a smorgasbord of Asian, Indian, Italian, Greek, Mexican and South American dishes plus the Caribbean cooking of her mother, Yolanda Mora. Also on the menu: roasted vegetables, salads, soups and desserts, including a signature chocolate-mousse pie made from tofu and soy cream cheese.
Her mother is the main cook, and has proved adept at substituting tofu, tempeh, textured protein and soy "dairy" products for meat and cheese. Malaysian-born manager Tsyr Han Chow sets up the food and helps to serve during the lunch crush.
A recent day’s offerings included tofu curry patties with sesame seeds, jumbo pasta shells stuffed with soy mozzarella and spinach in tomato sauce, chopped avocado and tomato salad, curried green lentils with bits of apple, spiced brown rice pilaf and okra stew. Other favorites in the weekly rotation include spinach and zucchini lasagne, vegetarian paella and taco pie. The soup of the day could be split pea, roasted butternut squash, corn chowder or Caribbean vegetable thick with tropical root tubers. Soy-based vegan cakes in flavors like chocolate-mocha, mandarin orange and coconut are another draw.
The food is sold by the pound, so point to what you want, get the plate weighed, pay and pull up a stool at the counter or a chair at one of the tables near the front window. A typical meal costs $6 or $7. Surprisingly, says Mora, most customers are not vegetarian. Instead, they look at Honey Tree, in the words of regular April Murphy, as "the great source of healthy eating."
Honey Tree, 5138 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-759-1696. Lunch noon-3 p.m., store hours 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon-Fri.
Prepared food $9 a pound, organic juices $4.99, smoothies $4.99-$5.49
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