Thursday, May 24, 2012

Restaurant Review: Loving Hut in Chicago...

I’d been dying to go to Loving Hut ever since I heard about it last summer, but somehow every time my husband and I planned to go something always seemed to come up and spoil our plans. We finally made it there a few weeks ago and enjoyed a phenomenal dinner where we celebrated me passing my Introduction to Herbal Medicine class with a 99.2%.

First of all I have to say that the restaurant itself is nothing like what I was expecting. Since it’s a vegan Asian restaurant I was expecting some sort of gaudy design or decoration to highlight this. Chain restaurants after all tend to all fall into a sort of theme. However from the outside the place looked small and unassuming, and inside it was quiet - peaceful, dare I even say zen? - clean, and minimalist. The decor was simple, the music light and the atmosphere was very calming and welcoming. We entered, and were told to sit anywhere by a lovely elderly Asian gentlemen working behind the counter.


We were given menus and water and asked if we had any further drink orders. Since I’d already perused the menu online - as I often do when venturing to new restaurants - I already knew I was going to order a cappuccino. I rarely, if ever drink coffee these days, but back when coffee was a thing for me I used to love a good cappuccino. Of course when I went vegan that changed as it’s highly unlikely you’ll find a restaurant serving them with soy or nut milk rather then cow’s milk. So of course both my husband and I - he too was a great lover of cappuccino - were very eager to have a cup. It was everything I remember, delicious, foamy and bittersweet, but I soon realized that after not having coffee for so long it probably wasn’t the wisest decision. C’est la vie!

Lady Fingers

For appetizers we ordered steamed dumplings. Dumplings and Gyoza are a favorite of my husband so of course we had to try them, and they did not disappoint. They were succulent and the dipping sauce was fantastic. We also ordered the lady fingers which are a thin spring roll like thing filled with red bean paste. Now I love red bean paste, it was always one of my favorite treats to get when I went into Chinatown back in Vancouver. However since I moved to Chicagoland I haven’t seen red bean paste anything - that is until a discovered Mitsuwa a couple of weeks ago! Yay! - So I was very excited to try these, and they definitely did not disappoint. They were sweet and crispy and came with a slightly spicy sauce that complimented them wonderfully.

Royal Pho

For my main I got the Royal Pho. I’ve never actually had regular pho before, not in all the times I’ve been to Vietnamese restaurants, but I’d always wanted to try it. Of course when I went vegan that made ordering pho at a regular restaurant sort of impossible. In Maui there is a wonderful vegan Vietnamese restaurant in Paia that we went to that has vegan pho. I thought about ordering it there because it came highly recommended but it was so hot outside I just couldn’t justify eating soup. After we left Maui I regretted the decision not to get the pho. So when I saw Pho on the Loving Hut menu I knew I’d have to get it. As it happens the night we went was unseasonably cold and windy making soup the perfect order. It was absolutely delicious! I can not express just how wonderful this pho was. It was so packed and loaded with flavor and It comes in a massive bowl. For anyone who thinks they can’t stuff themselves on soup, you haven’t had the Loving Hut Pho.  Made with non-GMO TVP, Rice Noodles, mung bean sprouts, cilantro, lime, Seitan, onion and a special house broth it’s to die for! My husband got a dish called Forever Love, which is a stir-fry sort of thing. It includes non-GMO fried battered TVP, Mango, onion, red and green peppers, carrot, black mushrooms, and a house sweet and sour sauce served over brown rice. He loved it, and I took a little bite and must say it was very good indeed!

Forever Love

Though we were pretty darn stuffed after our entrees we decided to get dessert anyway, because let’s face it, how often do you get to go into a restaurant as a vegan and order anything on the menu? Plus, they had a green tea cheesecake! My good friend K from back home makes a really great green tea cheesecake. In fact until she made one and brought it over to my house when I was home for a visit in 09 I’d never eaten a green tea cheesecake before. After I tried hers I was hooked, and she made a couple more before that visit was over. That was the last time I ever ate green tea cheesecake. It’s not exactly a common type of cheesecake is it? And though I’m sure it’s easy enough to make it had never really occurred to me to try and make one myself.

Green Tea Cheesecake & Chocolate Mousse Pie

Loving Hut’s Green Tea Cheesecake was very good, but sadly it must be said that it just didn’t compare to my friend K’s version. It wasn’t quite as rich as I was expecting, nor was the green tea flavor as pronounced, and I felt that the soy base was a bit strong for my liking. I did however love that they used agave to sweeten the cake rather then refined sugar, so they get major points for that. Also I should say that if you haven’t been spoiled by K’s Green tea cheesecake you’ll probably love this.  My husband got the Chocolate Mousse Pie, which I had a bite of. We both thought it was very good, but also very chocolatey. Even for two chocolate lovers like us the richness was a little much, definitely good though, and again they used agave to sweeten rather then refined sugar. Gotta love that.

All and all it was a out of this world dinner, and it was a wonderful experience. Our server - the elderly Asian gentleman behind the counter - was super nice, and sweet. Everything about him and his demenor made me smile. I can not wait to go back for another meal! I highly recommend you check out Loving Hut if you live in Chicago but even if you don’t have no fear, because Loving Hut is an international chain restaurant. Which means they have many different locations in many different cities in many different countries. So be sure to check their website to see if there’s a Loving Hut near you!

Loving Hut - Chicago Location 
5812 North Broadway Street, Chicago

A list of their U.S. Locations

A List of International Locations

PS: Apologies for the poor photos, the lighting was a bit low-key.

1 comment:

  1. I miss going to The Loving Hut! We should totally go back there soon b/c this was a delicious meal. I loved the apps & the main dish I had. People should definitely check them out!