Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vegan Food Made with Love (the Loving Hut)

Amidst the hubbub along the Midtown stretch of Seventh Ave., it would be easy to walk on by the small vegan enclave Loving Hut without realizing you missed it. Don't let its size fool you. Their food packs a punch. And with vegan and vegetarian celebs staring down at you from the wall, you may very well nod your head and ask yourself the same question that appears on the wall, "these smart, beautiful, talented people are vegetarian. Why aren't you?"

There's not much to the decor otherwise and the TV is set to a channel with multiple language translations of English, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic (to name a few), sometimes with something cultish on air...something about smiling or happiness. But none of this matters. The fare will truly make you smile.

At the Loving Hut, Latin, Asian, and American vegan goodies converge on a menu prepared to satisfy your palate. On my first two trips, I delved into the Latin-inspired section of the menu. Both the protein quesadilla (stuffed with soy protein, sweet peppers, Daiya cheese and chile pasilla) and the veggie burrito (a mix of veggies, rice and beans) satiated my hunger. If the quesadilla and burrito were to go head-to-head in the metaphorical boxing ring, I'd definitely be in the corner of the protein quesadilla.

Round two: curry burger vs. mac n cheese burger. This one isn't a fair fight since the latter isn't actually a burger. The former is reminiscent of those Indian-spiced patties you can buy at Trader Joe's but this edition is made of a veggie/oatmeal union topped with what you may have guessed by now is my favorite topping: guacamole.

The latter is not a burger at all as I initially expected when I ordered it for lunch pickup during the work week. Once I delved into the creamy goodness of tapioca cheese, tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, soy protein, and sauteed onions topped with Daiya cheese, I soon forgot all about my ambitions for mac n cheese in sandwich form. Saying this dish is delish is an understatement. (Not having eaten meat in 15 years, I try to guess what veg dishes would send my non-veg friends over the moon and the mac n cheese burger, I think, could be a strong contender).

A close second might be the BBQ soy sandwich which I've had a handful of times. It's saucy, melty goodness that has comforted me many an evening post workout.

And last but not least, I finally delved into the Asian section of the menu with the vegan delight, a medley of stew protein, sweet peppers, scallion and cabbage in a sweet barbecue sauce). Vegan Asian dishes are usually last on my exploration list just because there are a wide variety of places that offer tofu-based dishes. Loving Hut shattered this notion because there's a lot more you can do than just steam or fry tofu. The flavors in this plate are just as delicious as those that appear in sandwich form.

In short, if you're looking for an excellent and quick vegan meal and you happen to be in Midtown (and aren't scrambling like the dickens to get the hell out), Loving Hut is the spot to stop in to satiate your veggie needs.