Thursday, November 17, 2011

Vex in the City: Part 15 Loving Hut

Taste of the food >< >< >< Good, it was nice but nothing too spectacular
Look of the food >< >< >< >< They made this look like food I wished to eat. A little effort goes a long way.
Environmentally-Responsibility >< >< >< >< >< I think Loving Hut ranks high on this one. Besides having reusable cutlery and literature on environmental responsibility, their slogan includes the line "Go Green!" and "Save the Planet".
Health Savvy >< >< >< >< Organic, non-GMO, no MSG food is great. They did have some health literature as well. Showing the benefits to going vegan on their menu or board would have given five butterflies.
Hospitality/Warmth >< >< >< >< The staff was very friendly. My waitress seemed very sincere and so happy that I thought she could not wait to share the bounty of vegan cooking.
D├ęcor/Vibe >< >< The decor was a bit drab and boring.
Added Perks I did not put a rating here since they did not know I was conducting a review nor did I receive any freebies.
Ethical and Community-Minded >< >< >< >< >< Loving Hut is reaching out through its online presence, message, and connection with the Toronto Vegetarian Association. There is a lot of literature in the restaurant and since Loving Hut is an international chain, it has a worldwide community which is evident through Supreme Master Ching Hai's broadcasts with a gazillion different subtitles.

Price (for a main course including appetizer)
$ 10-19 >< >< Very reasonable especially for organic non-GMO vegan food.

Loving Hut: Restaurant or cult? You decide. (Mwahaha.) When I learned that my friendly neighbourhood Loving Hut could be both, I hesitated on visiting this establishment. I read about Loving Hut being an alleged cult in the September 2010 issue of VegNews (one of my favourite magazines) in an article called "Mysteriously Supreme". When I tried to find the article to site, I could not but what I did find was a lot of criticism and objection to VegNews printing this piece. This controversy piqued my interest further especially so many Loving Hut-philes defended this business. Loving Hut, founded by Supreme Master Ching Hai a spiritual leader and entrepreneur from Taiwan (born in Vietnam), is the world's largest chain of vegan restaurants now at around 200 locations.

Supreme Master Ching Hai

A few theories surround the origin of Supreme Master Ching Hai and depending on who you listen to (in this case wikipedia)), she is "a poet, painter, musician, self-published writer and entrepreneur who heads the Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association, a business group with worldwide interests in restaurants, fashion and jewellery design". Influenced by Buddhism, she developed the Quan Yin Method encouraging people to look within to find their own greatness. All this aside, Supreme Master Hai is an entrepreneurial genius. With her chain of restaurants, she has spread the vegan message worldwide with the slogan: "Be Veg! Go Green! Save the planet!" Sounds good to me, indoctrination aside.

So what was it like to eat at the Loving Hut , one of three such restaurants in Canada?

Loving Hut reminded me of a lot of Asian restaurants I have been to. The interior decor is very simple and the food is great. There is a "Vegan Wall of Fame" which I appreciated. There are tons of pamphlets and books that promote the Toronto Vegetarian Association, plant-based foods, and veganism. This mini-library was right at the front of the store. There was just one thing, actually two. There were two flat-screen televisions hung at both ends of the small restaurant that displayed Supreme Master Ching Hai delivering a speech to a group of onlookers. I could not hear her speech since the volume was off but there were about twelve subtitles on the screen as she spoke.

The Loving Hut-- where dogma and palette collide

Vegan Wall of Fame featuring such celebs as Alicia Silverstone, Gandhi, Coretta Scott King, and Pierce Brosnan.

Screen #1 in operation

Screen #2 was also in operation

I was craving some serious fried food. These spring rolls were really good.

This Savoury Crisp was breaded deep-fried TVP with two dipping sauces.

They also came with fries. Ugh, my arteries. All this fried-ness is a rarity in my books but SOOOOO good.

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