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Friday, October 12, 2012

Loving Hut Tampa!

Hey there everyone, it's been quite awhile since my last post, hasn't it. Please forgive me, I just started my first full time job, which I love, so I haven't had a lot of time for blogging. I decided to do so today because yesterday I had the opportunity to visit a Loving Hut restaurant for the first time! For those of you who don't know, Loving Hut is the largest chain of 100% vegan restaurants in the world. That's right, 100% vegan! It is ran by followers of a woman named Ching Hai (more on her later) and serves Asian-inspired dishes. As luck would have it, this restaurant is in the same neighborhood as my new job. The neighborhood in general is fairly vegan-friendly due to the fact that it's near the University of South Florida (USF), which stands a good chance of being named the most vegan-friendly college by PETA. Needless to say, I love that aspect of the neighborhood! Now, onto my restaurant review.

Today I went for a morning/afternoon meeting at my new job. Loving Hut closes at 3 (it re-opens for dinner at 5), and I got out of my meeting around 2:30. I figured that I would simply go in, order something to go (no drive-thru), and eat in my car. When I got there, three other people also went in. The owners were very accommodating, and insisted that we all stay and sit at the tables, despite the fact that it would mean we'd be there after 3. There were a total of about 8 customers, myself included. I only saw two staff members, but the service was very good for such a small staff. They brought out cold water fairly quickly and took our orders in order of arrival. I wasn't extremely hungry, so I choose the Spring Rolls and a Coconut Delight smoothie. I must admit, it was very nice to be able to go to a restaurant where I could order anything from the menu without having to ask about the ingredients! It was also nice not to have to explain to the wait staff what "vegan" means like I've had to do at other places. Here, I could simply sit back and enjoy!

The meals were brought out within a half hour of ordering, which is fairly good for a table service restaurant with a small staff. I got four pretty good sized rolls with dipping sauce. The rolls were good plain, but the dipping sauce was DELICIOUS! I happily devoured all of them.

The coconut smoothie was also a nice treat. It had a very good flavor and is the perfect treat on a warm day (it's still in the high 80s here).

As I said, the service was also good. The owners, whom I believe are husband and wife, were also the servers. He cleaned the tables and took the orders, while she brought out the food. They were very good about asking if I needed anything, and even came over to refill my water without me having to ask.

The environment of the restaurant is very clean. The man explained as he was cleaning the tables that they used only natural cleaners such as vinegar and water so we didn't have to worry about chemicals touching our food. I really liked that!

If you have heard of Loving Hut, you've probably heard people say that they think that the owners of the restaurant are part of a cult. From what I saw, this is probably true, however, it is not a dangerous cult. They follow the teachings of a woman named "Ching Hai" or "Supreme Master", who teaches mediation and is considered enlightened. She preaches a message of love and peace. In every Loving Hut, they have TVs playing "Supreme Master TV", which is a channel showing her video messages and other vegan-related things. The good thing about it is the TVs are kept at a low volume (with captions on screen), so if you don't want to watch it, you can easily ignore it. From what I saw, the topics were mostly about animal cruelty on farms and global warming. In other words, the same thing you find on most mainstream vegan websites. The owners are NOT pushy about their religious beliefs. I did not hear or see them discuss religion with anyone in the restaurant. They simply have the TV on and have pamphlets written by Ching Hai on a table that you are welcome to take if you want. In other words, you don't have to worry about hearing a sermon while you are eating.

Another thing I like is the fact that the most expensive item is only $9! Pretty good prices for a table-service place.

In summary, if you are a hungry vegan in the USF area, definitely check out Loving Hut. I know that I loved it and can't wait for the chance to go back again!

Here is the website, including a full menu:

Until next time,

The Vegan Hippie Freak!

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