Thursday, June 3, 2010

Loving Hut Vegan Cuisine in Naples

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Loving Hut opened last week in Naples on the east end of Pine Ridge Road, ~a hundred feet west of the 7-11 on the corner of US 41 and Pine Ridge.

The food has a delicate to robust Asian influence with items derived from Chinese stir fries, Vietnamese “pho”, Japanese teriyaki, Thai dishes and Indian curries. There’s also  a bean burrito, veggie hamburger and well over seventy different lunch and dinner items. Everything is vegan, that is, free of animal derived ingredients. Lissome vegan Dee Nguyen was our server, as big as a minute, and spicy as the dipping sauce. Her recommendations are “spot on.”

The prices are easy on the wallet, with most  lunches less than $8, and most dinners under $11. Portions are generous.  I recommend starting with spring rolls ($4), which are delicate and crunchy-fresh, with rice paper rolls filled with steamed jicama, toju, carrot, cilantro, lettuce and noodle, served with peanut sauce.
  The former site of Tre Fratellis,’  and a Kenny Rodgers Roasters before that, has been nicely decorated with inviting beige and off white tones, accented by  colorful orchids in the windows.  The food and service are enjoyable.  While other Collier County spots serve just a few vegetarian and vegan foods, this is the first to offer a very large selection of over seventy, yes, 70 vegan items!  There’s Thai-style papaya and carrot salad ($7), Chinese-style Loving Hut mu shu (7), Indian curry bowl (8), and Vietnamese pho bowl (8).  From the New World, there’s Mexican seven levels burrito (7), BBQ-roll (6), and a soy hamburger patty with vegan mayo, onions, lettuce and tomato (8). 

My two professional tasters enjoyed all of the items selected, and they can be a picky pair. We verified that  Loving Hut is family friendly with prices, quantity and quality.
 The owners note that while nearly all items are organic, because perhaps 1% has yet to be sourced as organic, they do not want to lay claim to “organic” until that 100% point. That is welcome integrity.  It is a far cry from some restaurants in Naples who “offer organic when available”, and it is often less than 5% in actual purchasing. 

 The two tables of customers to my left and right had been there earlier for lunch, and came back to try more for dinner! How many restaurants does that happen at for you? A good sign for success of a vegetarian or vegan spot is how many omnivores choose to return.  I recommend starting with an order of spring rolls ($6), crunchy with jicama, tofu, carrot and cilantro, wrapped in tender rice paper and served with a rich peanut sauce or if requested, a lighter, vinegary sweet and sour sauce.  The combination is as light as springtime-refreshing!

The Crispy golden rolls, four for $4.50, are a slender traditional crisply fried roll filled with vegetables and soy protein.

Spicy Cha Cha  ($11) is yam paste crescents, battered and lightly fried, served with bell pepper, onion, celery and lettuce. My twin tasters were sure they were shrimp by the curved shape and the light batter!  It has a mild to moderate heat/spiciness. Our shared  plate was quickly emptied!
Golden Beauty ($12)  has a nice Vietnamese twist, with soy protein crisply fried with lemongrass and spices, and served with fresh tomato, cucumber, zucchini and carrot, with jicama slices marinated with vinegar and sugar. It is medium spiced and tastes great!

Co-owner Brenna Tu, happily explained the concept. Loving Hut is a branch of  an international vegan movement ( that seeks ways for all to live peaceably.  The Loving Hut is an extension of Supreme Master Ching Hai’s Buddhist based beliefs and healthy vegan eating choices. They strive to “leave a small carbon footprint” with not only the healthy vega foods offered, but also  by eating foods that use less fertilizers, shipping, and overall use of oil. Recycling is important. There are over twenty franchises in the USA, and numerous ones worldwide. With their motto of “Go veg, be green, save the planet, ” they are off to a tasty start.

975 Pine Ridge Road Naples,  254-9490,


Zach said...

Went today for the grand opening and had been before. Today they were giving out free samples of different items so I got to try a lot of different things. So far I would say:

Spicy cha cha (as pictured in your blog): 10+/10 - phenominal
Thai sticky rice and mango: 10/10 - delicious
Green cake (may not be on the menu yet): 9/10
Pho bowl: 8.5/10
Summer rolls: 7/10
Spring rolls: 7.5/10
Udon noodles: 7/10
Mushu rolls appetizer: 8.5/10
Mixed vegetables: 6/10

Overall it is a fantastic restaurant and I would highly recommend it. With so many veagan options it is extremely addicting for a vegetarian myself and I want to keep going back and eventually try everything on the menu.

Sue S. said...

What a great review! I thought I had written it!! My sons & I have been to Loving Hut 3 times in the past week & are very delighted with the choices!! That Spicy Cha Cha reminded us of shrimp for sure!

Anonymous said...

What a delish experience. Thank you for your review.