Dining nirvana

The entrance to Wailua now boasts an Indian vegetarian restaurant to go along with Filipino, Chinese, Mexican, Japanese and Korean establishments at the busy Houselots intersection — not to mention an American bakery and one of the best sushi houses on the island.

Robin (Kashi) Parmley opened Cafe Nirvana in January at the Wailua Shopping Plaza, at Kuhio Highway and Haleilio Road.

The vegetarian South Indian restaurant is similar to his first restaurant, the India Bazaar in Moilili on Oahu that his spouse and son still run today.

“We ran the first Indian grocery store in Hawaii and it evolved into a restaurant,” he said.

There are a few tables in a cozy but comfortable atmosphere and the bulk of business is takeout. 

Parmley will offer three choices each day, along with lemon cashew rice, for $8.

“Fresh, fast and tasty,” Parmley said.

A yogurt condiment comes on the side. Samosas and mango lassi is coming soon.

Parmley is a yoga teacher, creates stain glass mantras and a Thai yoga masseuse, along with catering and teaching Ayurvedic cooking.

Vegetarian and vegan, without dairy, and prepared in the Ayurvedic tradition, Cafe Nirvana follows a South Indian philosophy around food that involves pureness of thought while cleaning, preparation and cooking.

Parmley tweaks the items on the menu each day depending on the vegetables and spices available. Some are imported but most is what he finds at local farmers markets.

“I am trying to do as much organic and local as possible,” he said.

Ayurvedic medicine is about lifestyle, and the selection of one’s food begins with a self-reflective look at one’s physical and personal makeup, he said. The way it is prepared, the way it is eaten, and even the cleaning up has as much to with digestion and health benefits as the ingredients.

“Proper habits,” he said. “Everything here is made from scratch, and done in the tradition of Ayurvedic and South India cuisine.”

Sharing the Cafe Nirvana space is Potions Kombucha Bar, which will open as soon as owner Jonathan (Gadhai) Reeves perfects his kombucha culture strains that originated in the Caucasus region between Europe and Asia. He said it may take batch after batch before it is perfect.

“I got it down to a refined process and people say it is better tasting than others they have tried before,” he said.

Reeves researched the base of the potion as a starting point. He added herbs to preserve it and to keep its potencies and properties intact.

“I had in mind that the idea of a raw enzyme culture was always better fresh,” he said. “You can bottle potency but it is not the same as fresh.”

The answer, he found, was the draft tap model that pours out like a dark beer, only without the alcohol. He will divide his time making kombocha and using the kitchen to do prep work for his French crepe food truck in Kapaa. 

Reeves started out as a student of traditional film animation in the days before computers came into the picture. He plans to have some of his storyboards as art in the restaurant.

During his college days in England, Reeves began to see a synchronicity of events in his life and work that led him to guru Gadadhara Pandit Das. After graduating in 1993, he toured Europe with his guru settled in with a Hari Krishna community in India.

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