At the humble corner of U.S. 441 and Broward Boulevard awaits a paradise of Caribbean eateries for any food lover in the know to enjoy. Now, I have experienced one more reason to eat at this iconic intersection in Plantation, equally for its health benefits as well as its rich island flavours. Welcome to Veg by Hakin, the second vegetarian cafe owned by Antigua-born restaurateur Hakin Alexander Hill. He also runs a popular outpost in Miami called Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin.
Hill was introduced to the plant-based lifestyle at an early age and has been vegetarian for 35 years, with 22 years as a vegan. “I’ve seen the benefits of health and the financial prosperity of the lifestyle,” Hill said about his wish to share delicious plant-based dining with others.
Known as Me Hungry Vegetarian Restaurant before Hill took over ownership, the revamped spot launched this past March (just before the release of social distancing orders). The timing certainly posed a unique challenge, but their health-centric offerings feel more relevant than ever. Hill explains that Veg by Hakin serves Caribbean macrobiotic cuisine, which includes plant-based substitutes for animal-based products. For example, soy adds the secret meatiness to their ginger “chicken” and barbecue dishes. They also feature a range of natural juices.
Plant-Based Veg Dishes
Donna, my server, recommended I try the ginger “chicken,” and Hill encouraged me to also order the barbecue. Spinach rice and a generous serving of fresh vegetables accompanied my lunch. As a side, I also opted to try both versions of their vegetable patties.
The ginger soy chicken makes an amazing start for any meal. The flavours remind me of a Chinese-Jamaican dish I have eaten at the best restaurants back home. The soy was tender with a light, yet distinct, ginger flavour and smooth gravy. The spinach-seasoned rice makes an absolutely delightful pairing. This is the type of meal I could eat daily.
The barbecue was also tender, but the flavour was much bolder and sweeter. I haven’t typically seen barbecued meat with this super-soft, moist texture or saucy gravy, but the difference was welcome and enjoyable. I would definitely enjoy this as an occasional treat, and I found that it worked well with the fresh greens.
Lastly, I sampled their veggie patties. Both versions were consistent: warm with the flaky crust typically associated with Jamaican patties. As a fan of spice, to me, the mixed-vegetable patty was good, yet unremarkable. The spinach patty had a much better mixture of flavours, such that I’d happily eat it again.
There are so many more options to try. I’ve told Hill that I also wish to visit his Miami restaurant for comparison. He informed me that it is “considered one of Miami’s first Black vegan restaurants and markets.” With such pedigree, this new Broward locale is on its way to becoming desirable to carnivores and plant-based foodies alike.
Veg by Hakin is located in the Westgate Plaza at 105 North State Rd. 7, Plantation, Fla. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Monday through Thursday and on Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.