The Best Thing I Ate This Week: Keali’i at Zeke’s Beans & Bowls
When it comes to fish, I like it raw. However, being 7 months pregnant and told I must avoid all forms of raw anything excluding fruit and veggies, I wondered what I could have for lunch when my friend suggested dining at Zeke’s Beans & Bowls this week. The somewhat hole-in-the-wall spot in Virginia Beach is known for their fresh selection of poke bowls (pronounced poh-kay) as well as acai bowls (pronounced ah-sah-EE) and of course beans—organic, fair trade coffee beans, that is.
The restaurant itself is small but comfy. The chairs are mismatched, the couch is quite retro, and there’s a typewriter available for leaving random notes. The works of local artists adorn the walls, and the art is always changing. I approach the counter and browse the menu, which consists of smoothies, juices, acai bowls, poke bowls and salads. They even have a kids’ menu. I finally decide on the Keali’i Special (pronounced kay-uh-lee-EE)—seaweed salad, green onion, mayo, Sriracha and panko crumbs. This order normally comes with sushi grade raw tuna, but today I substitute tofu and also add brown rice, as recommended by the friendly lady behind the counter. I opt for the small, which is $12, but the large is available for just $16.
The food comes out quickly, and as soon as I unwrap my chopsticks, I’m ready to dig in. The proportions of each ingredient are layered perfectly, and after taking a few bites of the tofu on top, I have enough space to mix everything together in a tasty conglomeration of freshness. I’m glad I ordered the rice as it gives the dish some real sustenance, and the crisp bites of seaweed salad offer a pleasant flair. The combination of tofu, mayo, panko and Sriracha is creamy with a great texture of crunchy panko and soft tofu. Just remember to keep a drink nearby as the Sriracha adds quite a kick. Even through my mouth is on fire, there’s no way I can stop eating this and enjoy it down to the very last grain of rice.
My friend is also feeling the heat from her Spicy Poke, which includes raw tuna, shoyu (soy sauce), green onion, toasted sesame oil, sesame seeds, Sriracha and crushed wasabi peas. Although hers looks amazing as well, I don’t feel completely envious of the raw tuna because the tofu blends so perfectly with the components of the dish. But when I am able to go raw again, I’ll be ready for a bite of another bowl.
Zeke’s Beans & Bowls is located at 616 Norfolk Ave., Virginia Beach. For more info, call 757-963-5155 or visit their Facebook page.