Saturday, January 7, 2012

Vegan Burgers from Loving Hut Express Food Cart

Loving Hut Express on Urbanspoon

On today's Food Bloggers Food Cart Crawl with PoshPudding (who very helpfully took a picture of the menu) and FoodPersuasion, we started at the Vancouver Art Gallery and headed for the nearby Roaming Dragon. Our next step was to trek all the way to Yaletown for the vegan Loving Hut Express.

Once upon a time, Loving Hut was a small restaurant on Broadway that had really decent vegan pizza (albeit with that creepy-tasting Daiya cheese). It also had a TV with Loving Hut founder Supreme Master Ching Hai's channel on it. There's no TV on the Loving Hut food cart.

The Loving Hut Express food cart uses Gardein fake meat, which is really quite good in both look and texture to real meat. Taste-wise it was harder to tell, smothered under delicious sauce and veggies, but there wasn't anything odd about it either. Some fake meats might have a strong off-flavour because of the tofu content, but it was nothing like that here. (That said, when I carefully isolated a piece of the the "traditional style patty" of the BBQ Onion Ring Cheese Burger, it was slightly bitter.)

Why the meat is inside might be a bit of a mystery. With a "regular" burger, the meat or patty is prominent and mostly you can taste some of it. Here, it's probably for the protein content because you can't really taste it. In fact, you might not be able to immediately see it as it's buried under everything. The burgers have greens and delicious sauce, and that's mostly what you get. The burger adds mass to each bite and makes it a more filling meal. At $8, it's a delicious meal at a reasonable price for how much you get.

We tried the Crispy Gardein Chick'n Burger and the BBQ Onion Ring Cheese Burger. Both were very sensibly priced so that after tax they each came out to a clean $8 and no coins to handle. The size of the burgers were also very good: Stacked quite thickly, and they use oval buns that are bigger than the usual round burger bun. Two small basic burgers from McDonalds would approximately equal one of these burgers.

The Cripsy Gardein Chick'n Burger (with avocado, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and topped with house made apricot-jalapeno relish, chipotle mayo) was actually on the slightly spicy-hot side with quite a bit of bite from the jalapeno, but overall there is a slight sweetness and that light, fresh feeling from eating salad. A good amount of veggie here and not a heavy feeling from eating it, like you might get from eating some burgers.

The BBQ Onion Ring Cheese Burger ("traditional style patty", crispy onion rings, housemade cheese sauce, tomato, red onion, iceberg lettuce, BBQ sauce, vegan mayo) is a really stacked burger, in part due to the onion rings. With this burger, I have to say that it's best if you eat it RIGHT AWAY. The onion rings would still be crispy, and that can make a big difference to the overall experience.
Because of the generous amount of sauce, the onion rings get soggy really fast. Just walking from the cart to Roundhouse Community Centre so that we could have our burgers in the warm and away from the wet of the rainy day meant the onion rings had turned to mush. However, it was still a delicious burger. The vegan cheese sauce also lacked the heavy feeling and potential oiliness you can get from using real cheese.

Overall I'm very impressed, and I am very hard to please when it comes to food. Hopefully future experiences here will see consistent taste and quality.

Loving Hut also carries locally made Zimt Chocolates, which are raw, vegan, organic, and fair-trade. We tried a bar of Sweet Orange Nib'd ($6; dark chocolate, studded with crunchy cacao nibs, hints of sweet orange, cacao butter, coconut nectar, cacao powder, cacao nibs, coconut sugar, sweet orange essential oil). The chocolate has a very nice gloss on it. It doesn't melt in your mouth as easily as Belgian chocolate so some chewing is necessary here. There's a strong orange flavour, plus fun nut-like crunch from the cacao nibs. There was, however, also a lingering bitter aftertaste, probably from those same cacao nibs.


  1. I love this food cart- the sammis are incredible, I think. And everyone who works there is so nice!

    So glad you liked the Zimt! Try the Chocolate Coconut Fudge next time, if you'd like- everyone seems to love the filling =) The bitter contrast to the sweet chocolate in the Sweet Orange Nib'd is from those nibs, which are pure cocoa beans!

  2. @Emma - I'm aiming to go back to Loving Hut Express in February. I'll be sure to look for another flavour of Zimt while I'm there! (^_^)