Tracy and I had a lovely visit from my cousin Marisa a few weeks back. She was up from Simi Valley visiting family in Fresno and Dinuba, just weeks before leaving to Albuquerque, N.M., to begin her Ph.D. program in communication and media studies at the University of New Mexico. Marisa and I, through the wonders of Facebook, have kept in better touch these last few years, and she and Tracy have a lot in common, being fellow speech and communication scholars.
Marisa and her family eat mostly vegetarian and vegan food, so we delighted in taking her to one of our favorite Fresno vegan restaurants, Loving Hut, near Fresno City College in the Tower District. Loving Hut is a small national chain of vegan restaurants whose motto is: “Be veg. Go green. Save the planet.” Of course, I love saving the planet and being green as much as the next guy. But I also happen to love the vegan Vietnamese food at Loving Hut.
I ordered the No.6, a dish called Blissful State. It consisted of lemongrass vegan soy protein, steamed rice, and veggies. This is my favorite dish from Loving Hut, and has stayed mostly the same since the restaurant was formerly called Au Lac, before the national affiliation sometime in the last year. The pepper flakes make the lemongrass vegan soy protein so hot, and it’s one of my favorite fake meat dishes in town.
Tracy ordered the No.11, a dish called Meditative Chow Mein. It had delicate yellow noodles, tofu, vegan soy protein, onions, and veggies. Later, in her experiments with her Take-out Menu Cookbook, Tracy has tried to re-create this dish at home, to excellent effect. So excellent, in fact, that I’m actually eating bok choy willingly these days. (I’m a picky veggie eater and always have been, but this dish has changed my mind about bok choy.)
Marisa ordered the No.18, a dish called Divine Pho. It consisted of rice noodles, veggie broth, oyster mushrooms, tofu, and vegan protein. Marisa said she often likes to order pho at pan-Asian restaurants. It made me feel a bit guilty, as a longtime Fresnan, that I didn’t take her to one of the many hole-in-the-wall numbered pho joints near our house. But there’s always a good bowl of pho to be had next time when my dear cousin comes through town.
1495 North Van Ness Ave., Fresno, CA 93728