Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Loving Hut, Tampa

Zach and I were flying into Tampa so I figured we'd hit the Loving Hut for lunch. Loving Hut is an international chain of restaurants of which each is independently owned and operated by a member of the Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association. Each restaurant has distinctively different menus, but all are focused on Asian cuisine.  This one had a huge sign posted with a picture of their cult leader and a message stating, "The ice that melts too fast. The climate that changes too quickly. Be Veg. Go Green. Save the Planet."  The website of is listed as well.

I actually think they all have the same sign. I hate to say anything negative about this wonderful chain, but the more I see these signs and the pictures of the cult leader in the restaurants, the more I think that this could really frighten people away. I mean, the sign is just weird and creepy and really doesn't make complete sense unless you think long and hard about what it is trying to say. To the average non-vegan, it just gives them a reason to think vegans are weird. But, despite the signage and pictures, I absolutely love the chain. So, on to the review.

The decor is always the same -- a yellow and white front counter with a dessert case and refrigerated case from which they sell their mock meats and this one was no different. We were seated at a table in the back of a fairly empty restaurant. This restaurant closes from 3 to 5 p.m. each day and we arrived 15 minutes prior to their break in service.  Keeping that in mind, we ordered quickly.

We started with the jumbo drumsticks, which I only ordered because they looked so incredibly odd. They basically took a bunch of mushrooms, breaded them, then fried them into the shape of a drumstick. It was quite amusing.

The end of the drumstick was actually the head of a large mushroom and upon biting into each one, we found that were filled with enoki, king mushrooms, and other seasonal mushrooms as well as soy protein. Not too bad for $4.50. They were served with ginger sauce with peanuts.

This was the end of the "drumstick."

For my entree, I ordered the Savory Eggplant dish. This was a typical Chinese-style dish that consisted of eggplant, silken tofu, and onions in a mushroom sauce topped with sesame seeds. It was pretty good except that they served it with long grain brown rice, which I don't really like. I much prefer short grain brown rice with my Chinese dishes. The combination of long grain rice and Chinese food just doesn't go well, in my opinion.

Zach ordered the Noble Philly Sub, which was loaded with soy protein, onions, peppers, carrots, cabbage, and mushrooms and topped with spicy cajun sauce. The sandwich was good and incredibly filling.

We were pretty stuffed after eating all of that food. But, the desserts were so tempting. So, I took a Chocolate Pie to go. It was made with silken tofu, chocolate chips and vanilla and was delectably satisfying.

The Loving Hut restaurants usually serve good food though some are better than others. I enjoyed this meal, but prefer the menu at some of their other locations over this one. The prices are incredibly cheap. The sandwich was $6 while the eggplant dish was $9 -- a great deal considering the generous portions. I'm looking forward to visiting more restaurants in this chain soon. I just wish they'd tone down the Supreme Master messages a bit.

As a side note, I had to laugh as I noticed that directly across the street was the House of Meats. Ironic, huh?

Loving Hut - Tampa
1905 E Fletcher Avenue
Tampa, FL 33612
(813) 977-7888

The Loving Hut on Urbanspoon


  1. I went to this Loving Hut when I was in Tampa for a wedding about 13 months ago. It was my least favorite of the four I'd tried at the time (Pittsburgh, Falls Church, Orlando, Tampa). I didn't like the menu or the food.

    Go about 90 miles north and try the one on East Colonial Drive in Orlando. It's a lot better. Trying to find decent veg food in Tampa is tricky.

  2. Thanks for the tip - I'll have to check that one out as well. There are so many of them!

  3. There are! Bryan and I went to the one in NYC a couple weeks ago. It's *tiny*. And the food is meh. But if you're going to an event at Madison Square Garden (which we were), it's just a couple blocks south of there. Otherwise, there are much better vegan places in NYC.

  4. I ate at the Loving Hut in Sacramento, CA today for the first time. I was leary after seeing that most items on the menu included "soy protien". I rarely use soy, being more of a bean and rice kind of person. Anyway, I ordered the drumstick appetizer and was blown away. It had a better taste and texture than I remember chicken having. The entree "BBQ Vermicelli" was just amazing. I actually was worried that it might really be meat.

  5. I haven't been to the one in Sacramento yet. Thanks for the recommendations!!

  6. Thanks for such a thorough review (and explanation of the freaky sign out front). Been curious about this place but was so put off by the sign and the outside of the building. Now that I know what the deal is with the Supreme Master I'm not as weirded out.

  7. I promise - it is safe! You'll be pleased with the food there if you like good vegan food.

  8. Great food and even when busy managed to get our food out in a timely manner.