A few weeks ago, I was wandering along Edgware high street with Lovely Jane, in search of food. We were heading along Station Road, vaguely towards Izgara, a fabulous Turkish place, as we have been there before and have never been disappointed with the food. I say ‘vaguely’ as we started from Sainsbury’s car park and thought we’d check out what else there was on the way to Izgara just in case. We saw all sorts during our leisurely saunter – pizza place, Chinese buffet, Nando’s (there’s always a Nando’s right?) but then Jane mentioned what used to be Mr Mann’s. It’s a purely vegan Asian restaurant with a great value for money buffet, a limited eat as much as you like menu, and an a la carte menu, filled to the brim with vegan dim sum and wonderful spicy, noodly dishes. Jane is always happy to go to places that offer only a small vegetarian selection, but this time I wanted to go somewhere that meant she could eat the whole darned menu if she chose to and not have to worry.
It is now called Loving Hut, and is like something out of Space 1999 meets Akira. I LOVE IT.
The staff are very friendly, the atmosphere is nice – and they do not hassle you at all, even if you are an odd girl taking lots of photos with her phone – and the food is very good indeed. I like the fact that it is all vegan. This means that friends of mine can go and eat without any problems at all, which relaxes me, and the food really is very good indeed. I’m a fairly confirmed carnivore and this didn't leave me ‘missing meat’ in any way at all. In fact, it made me want to go back and eat lots of their delicious food to find out more about it. It’s also a great place for Jewish people to eat, as there is no chance at all of the meat/dairy cross-contamination. I imagine that this restaurant being placed in Edgware isn’t just a happy accident.
Onto the food. We went for the Eat As Much As You Like menu, which I think was £12.99 per person. They only allow you to order two dishes each at a time, which is very sensible, and they also have a lovely sentence on the menu that says “Cherish the food. Do not waste food.”
We went for veggie dumplings, ‘pork’ balls in batter, sesame toasts and tofu with salt and chilli for our starters.
I actually preferred these sesame toasts to the ‘usual’ ones. I thought they had much more flavour and a better texture. The soy and chilli dip had a dark, smoky hint to it and went perfectly with the tofu which, even though it was deep fried, was not at all greasy. Once you get used to the texture of the ‘meat’ in the ‘pork’ balls, it’s all good. I think they use gluten chunks or soya pieces, so it’s actually very soft. It didn’t take me long to get used to it though! Next time I want to concentrate solely on the dim dum because just look at the menu.
Next up were the mains.
The best fried rice I have ever eaten, with spring onion scattered liberally through it, but not so much that it overpowered the rice. Light and fresh , with not a hint of oiliness or heaviness. We got brought a Szechuan dish by mistake, which they apologised profusely for and let us have for free. It was sooo spicy that we had to take that very slowly but the flavours…oh they were so good and zingy that we didn’t really want to stop eating. I had to give up after a while though, as I am a wuss. Heed the chilli warnings on the menu for they do not lie.
My barbecue ‘beef’ was a revelation. Sticky, sweet and smoky but crisped edges and soft insides. If I could choose only one dish, it would be that. Jane’s Thai Green Curry was gorgeous. Okay, so I might choose that as well. Um.
Creamy and coconutty but with a little lilt of spice to cut through the creaminess. The aubergine in it was soft and silky, a pleasure to eat. Many places simply cannot cook aubergine right, but this, this was heaven.
We had broccoli cooked with ginger as a side and that was such a surprise to me. I don’t like ginger at all but this…the freshness just worked, and sharing the dish was very difficult! The next time I visited I had it fried with garlic and that was equally yummy, but on balance I actually prefer the gingered version.
After all this food we were getting dangerously full, but after a small excursion by yours truly to photograph the dessert bar and buffet decor (yes, those are plastic cucumbers and aubergines)
we had just enough room to share a dessert. We got ourselves the last slice of home made blueberry cheesecake. Okay, maybe I should write ‘cheese’cake but anyway. Dense, fudgy, sweet, cool and creamy. It was absolutely luscious. Just as well it was the last slice else we’d have eaten even more and probably burst. The mum and daughter who work in the restaurant make all the cakes but because Mum was away, there was no more cheesecake to be had. As I say, probably just as well!
All of this spicy, zingy, mouth-tingling wonderfulness came to under £30 including the coconut and pineapple drinks we had. I could happily eat there again and again and you know what? I think I will. It was almost like a breath of fresh air. I’m fairly sure my arteries thanked me, at least until just before the cheesecake.
Loving Hut, 236 Station Road, Edgware, Middlesex, HA8 7AU, Tel: 0208 905 3033