Despite the restaurant critic pile-on this week, Plum isn’t the only new

Despite the restaurant critic pile-on this week, Plum isn’t the only new vegan restaurant to open in Seattle. Vegan Garden, a pan-Asian restaurant in the ID, has remodeled itself as Loving Hut. Just as Vegan Garden was, Loving Hut is run by the followers of Supreme Master Ching Hai, the Buddhist spiritual leader-slash-fashion designer whose presence is felt in many U.S. cities with large Vietnamese populations. According to Wikipedia, she was once called “Part Buddha, part Madonna.” (Though English-language news stories about Ching Hai and her followers are rare, some have called her movement a cult, and she is best known in the United States for having donated $800K to President Clinton, who was forced to return it to her.)The switchover is part of an international expansion of the Supreme Master’s restaurants. There are now 13 Loving Huts located around the country, as well as branches in Taiwan, France, and 10 other countries. Seattle’s Loving Hut (theme: “Be veg. Go green. Save the planet.”) is stripped-down, clean, and largely white inside, with a terse menu of East-West dishes (“hamburger,” “Loving Hut roll”). A flat-screen television above the counter is tuned to Supreme Master Television, a mix of news stories subtitled in a dozen languages interspersed with frequent exhortations to eat vegan.The stir-fried tofu I ordered ($8.95) was pretty straightforward — deep, deep, deep-fried strips tossed lightly in a sweet soy sauce. While Vegan Garden served a more expansive menu of Chinese-Vegetarian meatless dishes, Loving Hut’s fare seems to be more vegetarian fast food. Still, it’s fresh and not too expensive, and McDonald’s doesn’t end your meal with a fortune cookie. Mine read: Say sorry only once, and get better all the time. That’s the best way to apologize. –By Supreme Master Ching Hai.Loving Hut, 1226 S. Jackson St., 726-8669. Open for lunch and dinner.


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