There's a new vegan restaurant South of San Francisco and West of Berkeley...and that's big news for veg*ns from my neck of the woods. Last week, this vegan visited Loving Hut at 165 University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto.
Now, I'm still waiting (and wishing) for a veg*n restaurant that's more along the lines of Greens or Millennium...more gourmet, more than vegan Chinese food...and I can keep hoping that someone will open that kind of restaurant South of, say, San Mateo.
But in the meantime, restaurants like Loving Hut (think Garden Fresh in Mt. View or Happy Bamboo in San Jose) are also really welcome.
At Loving Hut you order at the counter from a still-small selection of menu choices. Don't be fooled by the menu on their web site [PDF]...it is way more extensive than the choices offered in Palo Alto.
I've been to Loving Hut twice in the last few weeks. Both times I tried something called a Yam Flour Crescent...a rather inexplicably entitled appetizer that emulates, more than anything else I can name, fish sticks. And come with a vegan tartar sauce.
Now I know there are plenty of veg*ns who have no desire for or taste for faux animal products of any kind, but I'm not one of those veg*ns. I love eating these mock fish sticks and the creamy vegan tartar sauce too.
For main dishes I've tried Spaghetti Jambalaya and Shepherd's Pie. The former was a classic spaghetti with red sauce and vegetables: tasty, but not incredibly exciting. The latter featured a mound of vegan mashed potatoes on top of a ground mixture made of eggplant and mushrooms, which very satisfyingly emulated the savory, meaty portion of a traditional shepherd's pie.
Companions (all non-veg) veered towards the safe and recognizable dishes, including soup, salad, spring rolls and rice dishes, all of which garnered praise.
Look, the atmosphere is non-existent; the selection is still limited, and truth is I might be better off (and healthier) building a big custom salad at Pluto's if I'm looking for a quick, affordable, healthy meal in downtown PA.
But when I get a hankering for faux fish sticks or faux shepherd's pie or any number of other things that I don't normally get to eat? I know just where to go.