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There's a little sign on the window of this restaurant. It has pictures of famous people on it: Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King's wife, the president of PETA, and others. What do they all have in common? Allegedly, they're vegetarians.

Loving Hut is a vegan restaurant, but that's not the most noteworthy thing about it. Not by a long shot. The most interesting aspect of the Loving Hut, by leaps and bounds, is the fact that it's an international chain founded by Supreme Master Ching Hai, the Taiwanese spiritual leader of a small religion that practices the Quan Yin Method of spiritual awareness.

How cool is that?

On the inside, televisions broadcast the Supreme Master Channel; a 24/7 feed of the Master's wisdom with about a dozen languages obscuring half the screen with subtitles. There is even a series of YouTube videos to demonstrate the restaurant's motto of "Be veg! Go green! Save the planet!"

Oddly enough, this wasn't creepy or anything when I visited for lunch. Perhaps it's the fact that the place was packed with a lively crowd, or maybe it's just because the Loving Hut was well-lit and inviting. It's a cute little space that looks for all the world like just another noodle shop. Except that there's no meat or cheese on the menu, of course.

The food was cheap, which never hurts. Appetizers were $3.50-$5 and the main dishes were all about $5-$7.50. Shakes and juices were just under $3.

The pan-Asian menu takes a geographical detour for a little selection of "Western Specialties," like a veggie burger or the pasta alfredo that comes with carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower.

A BBQ Noodle plate was a mix and match assortment of items. Slippery rice noodles formed the base, and a chewy layer of fake meat with cracked peanuts made up the protein component of the dish. Enlivened by fresh mint and bean sprouts, as well as a generous bowl of sauce that seemed like it would have been based on fish sauce at a non-vegan restaurant, the bowl of noodles was fun to eat and very light in flavor without any meat to weigh it down.

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The BBQ plate wasn't overly oily or salty, either and the overall impression I had was that it was a healthy, nutritious dish.

Probably the most irksome part of the meal was the plastic chopsticks. Without any texture on the ends, the smooth sticks perfectly failed to pick up noodles with any efficiency and I resorted to using the fork instead, which reduced the fun quotient of the meal a bit.

A "compassion orange" shake was also very nice. Not super sweet, though also not very big.

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One other odd quirk of the Loving Hut: while the table servers will deliver the check to the table, they don't seem inclined to pick it up afterwards. I sat around waiting for a while before I decided to just go up to the counter and pay there. Other than that, service was attentive.

Loving Hut
1905 El Cajon Boulevard
619-683-9490
M-F 11-2 then 5-9
Saturday 11-9
Closed Sundays

Comments
2

Good food description, but I don't know. Any place that bows down to someone who calls herself "supreme," claims supreme knowledge and feeds herself out across the world 24/7 on TV gives me the creeps. Smells of personality cult. As they say, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach...

March 16, 2012

As far as I can tell, this is one of the more harmless micro-religions out there. Any religion that encourages people to be healthy and peaceful can't be that dangerous, right? The Supreme Master doesn't seem to be raising an army or anything.

Although, maybe I've had one too many noodle bowls....

March 17, 2012

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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