Tag Archives: restaurants

Love Hut, Baby, Love Hut!

So Stephanie and I had a friend date Saturday night at Loving Hut, although it kinda sounds like a better place for an actual date, doesn’t it?

Formerly known as Veggie Era, the restaurant only recently joined the worldwide LH franchise–or should I say the far-reaching empire of the Supreme Master? (You’ll either know what I’m talking about, or you won’t!) Steph and I were afraid the menu would have changed for the worst, but I didn’t notice too many differences. My favorite entrée is still on it–you’ll see!

We started the meal with two appetizers, the first of which were the Tempeh Squares:

I very rarely eat battered ‘n fried foods, but this was the only tempeh on the menu. :) The sweet soy sauce was the perfect accompaniment.

The Veggie Pancake contained tomatoes, cabbage, and onions, but honestly just tasted like potatoes. Still, it was good in that satisfyingly carby kind of way. Probably not an “order again” though.

Steph had the Eggplant Tofu with Basil. I had a bite, and it was good, but I’m not generally a huge fan of eggplant in Asian cuisine. Steph’s an eggplant fiend though. It was full of vibrant colors, that’s for sure!

And behold, one of my favorite faux meat dishes of all time:

Sweet & Spicy Lady: Soy protein chunks and zucchini sautéed with garlic & sweet chili sauce.

I think I’ve posted about this dish before. The texture and flavor of that soy chicken is in-freaking-credible! Crispy and chewy and juicy. Let’s just say, I have trouble ordering anything else whenever I go to Veggie Era…I mean, Loving Hut! Ah! I’ll have to force myself to branch out next time and order something else.

Check Loving Hut’s website to see if there’s a location near you! I think the odds are in your favor. Each one has a different menu, which I find exciting. I can’t wait to try the one in Phoenix next time I’m home.

All-You-Can-Eathiopian

Truth: I kind of hate living in this part of California–in the endless sea of suburbia stretching out from the center of Los Angeles. Granted, the weather generally rocks, but I won’t be crushed in three months when it’s time to leave Claremont and start my life somewhere else. Nonetheless, as long as I am here, I sure as hell am going to hit up as many vegan restaurants in the city as I can.

This quest continued two weekends ago when my friends Stephanie and Tori and I almost effortlessly (Hey–have YOU tried driving on LA freeways?!) made our way into Little Ethiopia.

We were headed to Rahel Vegan Ethiopian Cuisine at the glowing recommendation of Quarry Girl. And we were happy we did!

Ethiopian. Good. Vegan Ethiopian. Very good. All-You Can-Eat Vegan Ethiopian for under seven dollars. Um, hello?!

For any of you who don’t know, Ethiopian food is by far the most fun cuisine to eat! It consists of various stews, a.k.a. wots, that you scoop up with pieces of injera, a spongy sourdough pancake-like bread made of fermented teff flour. No utensils are necessary. Isn’t that how we all really want to eat anyways?

My favorite wots are always the lentil ones. Rahel’s lentils weren’t as amazing as those at my local Tempe Ethiopian joint, Café Lalibela, but they did the trick. As you can see in the above photo, there were both red and yellow lentils, as well as cabbage and string beans dishes. Also, below: a carrot/potato stew, collards, and–my unexpected favorite–eggplant!

That green sauce was wayyy too spicy! But it sure was pretty.

Since the injera under our food got a bit soggy, we used additional rolls of it to scoop up the food as we ate, leaving a colorful collage at the end of our meal. I think it looks like a snowflake. An insanely delicious, savory snowflake.

I say no trip to LA is complete without a stop at Rahel. The service, atmosphere, prices, and food were all out of this world. Or at least this country. ;)

Babycakes NYC in…LA?!

My friends and I have been making as many vegan field trips into LA as possible the past few weeks because we figure, the deeper into the semester we get, the less feasible such trips will be. And, c’mon, second to New York City, LA definitely has the most vegan restaurants of any US city! (Obviously not talking about the number of vegan restaurants per capita…I think Portland would win that.)

First on our list was Babycakes NYC, which just opened their LA location a few weeks ago!

We went late in the day, so about half of their displays were empty. :( Even so, we didn’t exactly go hungry.

I got a vanilla spelt cupcake with chocolate frosting, but my first bite was a little unnerving. The frosting was sort of salty, and the cupcake was dry with a weird aftertaste. The staff at Babycakes was super sweet though, and immediately allowed me to replace it. I must have gotten a dud. Either way, I don’t mean this to be a negative review because they were so great about getting me a new one as soon as I expressed my discontent.

My second (and much more delicious!) cupcake was a gluten-free banana cupcake.

Although I generally prefer less sweet banana baked goods, like banana bread, this cupcake was still extremely yummy. The cupcake was moist and flavorful, and the frosting was perfect as well–just a little bit tart and cream cheese-y, but still sweet enough to qualify as a cupcake topper.

Still, not even my banana cupcake was as good as the gluten-free chocolate brownie cupcakes that my three friends got. I would definitely opt for that one next time!

Naturally, we had to take a bunch of baked goodies to go–who knows when we’ll be back next? I picked up a cinnamon bun and a chipwich.

Did I say cinnamon bun? I meant Skinny Bun! At least, that’s what Babycakes calls ’em! All I have to say about this spelt bun was that it rocked my breakfast world. A bit crumbly on the inside, but, hey–this was the next day, reheated in a microwave! It wasn’t overly sweet, the raisins were a nice touch, and I loved the buttery mouthfeel provided by the coconut oil!

Don’t worry, I didn’t eat my Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich for breakfast (even I have some discipline). But I did eat it as a snack!

Made with two gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, and a gob of vanilla frosting, this guy was even better than its ice cream counterpart that I’ve had in the past. First of all, you don’t have to worry about meltage. Second, this chipwich was just plain good–no explanation needed. Super sweet frosting, check. Crunchy cookies with a bit of salt to complement sweet frosting, check.

Finally, I had a slice of GF Lemon Poppyseed bread that my friend James gave to me. I slathered it with some TJ’s Reduced Sugar Strawberry Jam, and called it a morning.

Who knew lemon and strawberry went so well together? (Well, obviously I did, but whatever.)

Whether you’re in NYC or LA, I definitely recommend hitting up your local Babycakes. The worst that can happen is that you get a mediocre cupcake that you’re more than welcome to exchange for another (though I don’t think that’s likely), and the best that can happen is that you’re admitted into wheat-free dessert heaven. Your choice.

Next time, I’m going bright ‘n early though, so I can take my pick from a fully stocked display. I have a hankering for on of their “toasties,” and maybe that GF brownie cupcake. ;)

Good ‘Ol Tempe(h)

So last week I was home in Tempe again for less than 24 hours. Why, you might ask? Well, I was lucky enough to get a cancellation appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale to address my general malaise of the past seven months, and if you’re the Mayo Clinic, you know you don’t let three or four hundred miles prevent your attendance. In the world of doctor visits, that there is prime real estate, yo.

Of course, the whole thing was a hassle, but I certainly ate well during my short visit home. First of all, my dad is super adorable, and prepared an Indian feast–both of our favorites–for just the two of us. He made two dishes, along with brown rice.

Ginger chickpeas

And a potato/cauliflower/pea dish.

The chickpeas were phenomenal. We both agreed that the second dish was just mediocre, but my dad said the recipe was weird, and he had to doctor it up. Still, it was Indian food, so it can only be so bad, right?

P.S. The only thing cuter than my dad making this dinner for us was that, when I was about to take the above shot, he was like, “Wait, wait!” and made sure there was enough cilantro garnish. :) Oh, dad.

We scarfed down our meal in order to make our 10:30 showing of Avatar in IMAX 3-D. I loved the movie, and even though it was just my dad and I, I sort of felt like my sister Olivia was there because she looks exactly like Neytiri:

I’m sorry. I got carried away. She’s going to KILL me when she sees that.

Before I flew home the next day, I hit up my favorite (and Tempe’s only!) vegan restaurant, Green! My Mayo physician had just told me to eat a lot of gluten in the next month to make sure that my upcoming tests for gluten intolerance would be accurate, so I knew I was getting a sandwich. I chose one that I’ve always avoided because it seemed boring: The “Green” Burger. House ground and packed oats and barley veggie burger with fresh lettuce and tomato, vegan mayo, ketchup and pickles.

Lots of gluten! :) Oats and barley in the burger, and wheat in the bun.

To spice things up, I requested Cheddar Daiya and caramelized onions, and got it on an Ezekiel bun. Unfortunately, they forgot my onions, but I was able to forgive them since the Daiya rendered this sandwich one mean vegan cheeseburger.

More Daiya

Sorry to be repetitive, but my food life hasn’t been very diverse lately. But hell, screw diversity if my life can just become one big Daiya fest.

Italian Daiya quesadilla. Or maybe I should call it tortilla panini because this meal wasn’t Mexican-inspired at all… ;)

Spinach, tomatoes, red onions, spices (rosemary, thyme, oregano, and garlic powder), and of course, Italian Daiya! Not quite as good as the cheddar/black bean one from a few days, ago, but still. Also, as my Daiya supply dwindles, I’ve made my way through most of my Food for Life gluten-free tortillas, and I have to say that their texture is really weird. They start out kind of hard and shiny (I miss soft, doughy, floury tortillas!), but after you microwave them, they literally turn to rock. I like crispy quesadillas, but these don’t get crispy in a good, grill-y kind of way; they get crispy in the stale, overcooked sense. Not super flavorful either. But hey–you could fill a (non-leather) boot with Daiya and I’d probably eat it.

And, a “cheese” quesadilla, straight up. Junior high after school snack style. Using both Cheddar and Italian Daiya is the way to go!

(You can see that I kinda overcookednuked the cheese on the edge–it got a bit tough. Oh well. Look at the middle!)

And, I’ll finish with two pieces of news, both of which the majority of you won’t care about. :)

One, I finished the rough draft of the introduction of my thesis (on veganism) and it’s 26.5 pages long. This is only one of four chapters, which presents a problem as 70ish is the goal, and not 100. But I’m proud of myself for getting something done anyways. Ignore the fact that it took me two months to write it, and that the entire rough draft is due in one month. I said IGNORE it.

Two, back to Daiya! My favorite restaurant–Green–in Tempe is now serving Daiya. I had it straight from the @daiyacheese Twitter feed! I thought I couldn’t love Green anymore than I already did, but I stand corrected. I think I know the first place I’m headed come Thanksgiving break…