Chain restaurants often call to mind relentless streams of gray burgers. Not so at Loving Hut, founded by Supreme Master Ching Hai. You know, Supreme Master Ching Hai? Author of My Life with Birds? Originator of Supreme Master TV?
You don’t have to follow her spiritual teachings to eat at these restaurants (although her station does play quietly in the background). You don’t have to be vegan either, although posters on the walls do proselytize lightly. Nice, innocuous quotes decorate the bathroom, “Our bodies need food to keep us healthy. Our souls depend on love to grow.” And there are photos of famous vegetarians: Albert Einstein, Bill Clinton.
Honolulu has two locations. Both are small, green and white with open windows. Like all Loving Huts, each restaurant is independently owned and has a unique–healthy, vegan, organic–menu.
King Street does snappy business. Servers know customers by name and can guess their orders. Specials include two or three entries, with choices like tasty eggplant tofu and spicy lemongrass Hawaiiana ($8.25, $9.25). Soups, sandwiches and salads are also available. One couple took the bus all the way from Mililani to eat at Loving Hut. “Nothing like it on our side,” they explained.
The Pensacola menu is eclectic: full-flavored veggie fajitas ($7.50) and crispy wontons ($4.75 for five pieces) next to teri-burgers ($7.95). Specials include small, vegan desserts. For dinner, veggie manapua ($2.25), and take-out also available.Two Loving Hut locations at 1614 King Street, 373-6465, and 1102 Pensacola, 626-5626, open 10am–10pm