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VeganMoFo: Loving Hut review or, how I lost that loving feeling

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food - or VeganMoFo to you and me. To learn more about VeganMoFo, click here.

It was my last night in San Francisco. I wanted to end an excellent holiday with an equally excellent meal. Instead I ended up at this mediocrity hole - Loving Hut.

Loving Hut is a chain of restaurants across the US and beyond - 400 of them globally, according to Loving Hut's website - which, as far as I can tell, sell all different types of food depending on where they're based.

They're all vegan, which is great, and they promote veganism in each branch - also good in my book.

Well, it would be good, had not the video shown on TVs in the restaurant I visited (the branch in Chinatown, San Francisco) been aiming to show how great animals with You've Been Framed-style clips of animals doing tricks. Parrots riding bicycles, dogs shaking hands, you get the idea. Err, are vegans not meant to be against animals being used for that sort of thing?

Onto the meal itself: my first mistake was ordering a drink. Yep, you would have thought there wasn't much to go wrong with a drink, but no. The Coke my other half, Flicking the Vino, ordered tasted oddly of disinfectant. The Thai Iced Tea I chose tasted also of disinfectant - I'm all for unusual tastes and trying new things, but this was a step too far - and bonfires. Not so nice.

The food was just as underwhelming. We ordered vietnamese rice paper rolls to share, and for me, a main of  fragrant claypot rice, and for Flicking the Vinos, cashew chickenless bites.

The rice paper rolls were actually not bad, but seemed mainly composed of rice noodles wrapped in rice paper. A bit light on flavour, but pretty enough.

The cashew chickenless bites were cack-handed, some of the vegetables still almost raw, others sporting burnt corners. The soy chicken was decent - I felt kind of sorry for it, forced to keep company with poorly-cooked, underflavoured veggies.

Mediocrity also reigned with the fragrant claypot rice. The soy protein, tofu, shiitake, black fungus, cabbage and vermicelli promise in the claypot rice were heavy on the rice and vermicelli, light on the rest. 

And the fragrance in the fragrant clay pot? There was also no fragrance to speak of. There was no flavour to speak of. I could taste a little soy sauce, but that was it. A disappointing way to spend $8.

While the service was fine, I can only take my hat off to the efficiency of the operation - why not get ahead in the closing up process by starting to wash the floors while customers are still eating?

And they don't sell booze. In the case of fellow booze-eschewers Golden Era, you don't mind going without alcohol because the food's good. In the case of Loving Hut, the boozelessness is cruelty itself - the quality of the food is poor enough to drive you to drink.

Loving Hut Chinatown
1365 Stockton Street
San Francisco, California 94133

(415) 362-2199

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  1. I had a similar reaction when I ate at their Palo Alto branch--went there once, won't bother going back. Nothing was awful (apart from the television spouting propaganda), but nothing was particularly worth the trip either.


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