Friends will tell you that I’m a big time carnivore. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate my veggies, I love my greens but a good hunk of meat usually hits the spot.
I was sceptical. My idea of a vegan restaurant is one of those gross establishments on Tottenham Court Road in London which lure you with a £5 all you can eat buffet and then serve up thick gloopy heavily soya-sauced lumps of cold tofu parading as black bean beef/ chilli pork/ lemon chicken/ curry chicken / sweet and sour pork, (you get the idea), only they ALL taste the same i.e. gross and inedible.
So, it was with some trepidation that I walked into The Loving Hut (kudos to the name) in Wan Chai and perused the menu. If you do check this place out, you will notice that it’s not so much a restaurant as a workplace canteen, without the workplace. There is a helpful towering free-standing menu at the entrance with a massive list of mock meat dishes, with soya being the numero uno ingredient.
Although curious, I wasn’t all that enthused about the fake BBQ pork/ char siew, “New York cutlet” or “veg steak” but in the end we opted for the noodles with char siew “formosan style”, the soya tenderloin with preserved vegetables and cabbage and the deep fried veg scallops tossed in spicy rock salt to share. We shuffled along to the cashier, collected our ticket and found ourselves a seat. As I waited for the lady in the showercap behind the food counter to shout out our orders, I glanced around the spartan canteen and noticed a wall covered in pictures of all these Hollywood vegans and veggies: Richard Gere, Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman, Kate Winslet to name a few. Next to their faces there was a sign saying something along the lines of “These people are beautiful, smart and all vegetarians. Why aren’t you?” Hmmm what are they trying to insinuate…
I have to say the presentation was not too bad. The imitation char siew looked rather like the real deal and the soya tenderloin looked actually quite appetising. Perhaps I need to go with a vegetarian next time to get their expert opinion, but I thought that they did alright. They weren’t heavy-handed with soya sauce and other flavourings and the soy char siew and tenderloin were not soggy or bland. I’m not sure whether the freshness of our dishes that day was due to the fact that it was a Sunday and not that busy but I do wonder if the quality diminishes at peak times. I enjoyed the deep fried veg scallops- but then again I love anything deep fried covered in salt, so perhaps I was just enjoying the saltiness!
Verdict? If you want to psychologically convince yourself that you’ve been healthy at least once in your working week, then trot along to this place. Otherwise, I think there are much better vegetarian places to go to. Or, just make yourself a salad at home. And I don’t mean the Caesar salad kind with 3 cheese dressings or whatever calorific dressings you like to drench your salads in.
Chopstixfix rating: 2/5
Loving Hut Vegan Cuisine, G/F, The Hennessy, 256 Hennessy Rd, Wan Chai. Tel: 2574 3248. Open daily 11am- 10pm.