The Won Ton Noodle Soup at San Francisco's Loving Hut
Who: VN Publisher/Editor in Chief Joseph Connelly + VN Editorial Director Aurelia d'Andrea
What: A vegan restaurant opening
When: Saturday, October 11, 2008
Where: San Francisco's Chinatown
Why: Vegan food, silly!
The Scoop: If there's one thing San Francisco needs more of, it's vegan restaurants. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: bring on the dosas, burritos, tajines, tamales, gnocchi, fried noodles, bibimbap, dim sum, pho, sushi, injera, and your won ton noodle soup, and make mine animal-free! Well, ask, and ye shall receive, apparently, because the Supreme Master Ching Hai folks—the ones who've given us Golden Era, Golden Lotus, Vegetarian House, and other Chinese-Vietnamese veg places around the world, have now given us Loving Hut.
Joseph and I agreed to meet in Chinatown at 11:00 am on this sunny autumn Saturday to celebrate the newest addition to the global chain of Loving Hut cafés. Finding the restaurant wasn't a problem; we merely gravitated toward the crowd that converged at the corner of Stockton and Vallejo streets, and we were met with a festive hoohah that included dancing dragons spitting out chunks of cabbage, fireworks, drums, and lots of oohs and aahs from the crowd.
After the commotion settled, the hungry throngs poured inside the immaculate, slightly sterile interior for a taste of whatever was on offer, which happened to be an eclectic melange of Asian and good-ol' American. From noodle soups and mild curries to veggie burgers and French fries, there was a little something for everyone. I opted for a bowl of Bun Hue—a spicy noodle soup loaded with fake meat, while Joseph went for the Won Ton Noodle Soup. And the Gurus Curry. And the Spring Rolls. And the Raspberry-Chocolate Cake. Okay: We actually shared. However, the soup was so filling there was barely room for anything else. Somehow I made it happen, though.
While we slurped our noodles and chopsticked our way through the curry, we felt the eerie sensation of eyeballs boring into us. Looking out the glass window onto Vallejo Street, we recognized a familiar face staring back at us: HSUS' Erin Williams! Turns out Erin—who, among other things, is co-author of Why Animals Matter: The Case For Animal Protection—was out in the 'hood distributing Prop. 2 flyers, and since it was lunchtime, she and a couple of cohorts thought they'd stop in for a nibble.
We later discovered—by their own admission—that for Erin, Karin, and Walker, this was to be their third Loving Hut meal in two days. Looks like Loving Hut is already a hit.