When I moved back to Norfolk five years ago, the one thing I missed most about London was the food. Specifically, Vietnamese Pho and a decent choice of healthy, veggie take-away food.
Norfolk ticks ever other box, and don’t get me wrong, there are a plethora of incredible places here. Loads of fine-dining options, international cuisine, street food, you name it. In particular, over the last couple of years Norwich has really upped its game with some exciting new plant-based spots including The Tipsy Vegan, Bia Kitchen, Ancestors Coffee House and Tofurei. And now there’s PONO!
Yesterday I managed to swing by PONO, which for those who haven’t heard, is a new super-food bar that sprung up on St Giles just four weeks ago.
Inspired by Hawaiian culture, PONO means “living in a state of happiness, harmony and balance”. The eatery serves healthy, nutritious food that’s been designed to really get your taste buds going.
I’m now entering Week 4 of my Paradox Living training and my eating-out choices have felt a little narrow until yesterday.
PONO use fresh seasonal ingredients in everything they serve, including their customisable smoothie and poke bowls, salads and drinks.
The joint is run and owned by a lovely couple, Georgia and Ashley, who I met yesterday. They were so accommodating about my specific requests. I’m not eating much high-sugar fruit at the moment but they gladly toned down the banana in my smoothie bowl.
First up, while I waited for my order, I picked up this little pot – my first apple cider vinegar shot. Tipped as a “Natural Energy Booster” and made with lemon, cayenne pepper and apple cidre vinegar (£1.50). This isn’t for the faint-hearted! They should give this stuff to new Mums on the maternity wards. Seriously. I honestly felt a really boost. Not quite as powerful as kombucha but it definitely had a kick. At first it felt as though I was drinking pure vinegar but the cayenne pepper takes it to a new dimension and the lemon gives it a citrus edge. There was something a bit ‘Bloody Mary’ about the experience. (Not because that’s what I almost shrieked.) It was really invigorating, worth a try,
Next arrived my decaf latte. Like all the good coffee spots these days, they offer both oat and almond milk. The bitterness of coffee was the perfect match for my smoothie bowl, which as you can see, was a piece of art. I was that person taking several pictures of her food! Well, I had to show you guys.
Served up in a coconut shell nonetheless. It tasted divine, I didn’t want it to end.
This one was “Green Mana” (£5.50). I’m trying to eat as many green vegetables as possible at the moment, no carbs and low-sugar fruits like berries. Green Mana jumped off the page: A green smoothie bowl made up of spinach, kale, avocado, spirulina, banana, strawberries and topped with gluten-free granola, kiwi, banana, raspberries and desiccated coconut. Georgia very kindly omitted the granola and banana and added seeds on top of mine instead.
There were so many amazing things on the menu. Including their other smoothie bowls: Aloha Acai, Cacao & Hazelnut Dream (for any Nutella fans out there) and also regular smoothies. Creamy Cacao made with banana, avocado, almond butter, almond milk and date syrup – I’m making a bee-line for you next time!
Savoury fare is in the guise of a poke bowl. A traditional Hawaiian dish with ‘a PONO twist’. Choose from spicy salmon or traditional tuna, both raw and marinated and served with brown rice, fresh mango salsa, spinach, avocado, corn, pickled ginger, grated carrot and poke sauce. They’re trialing a marinated tofu (vegan option) today so watch this space for a regular vegan option, which should be a permanent fixture from mid-next week.
My overall verdict: It did just as it said on the tin – I didn’t feel as though I’d made any sacrifices. Not a single one. It’s in a really calm and easy-going environment too and was a great spot for people-watching, whilst working from my laptop. I sometimes feel a bit conspicuous working from coffee shops, but not here. A truly lovely little gem.
15 St Giles
Norwich NR2 1JL