Anupama and I finally made it out to Eden Center and Loving Hut in Falls Church this weekend. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Eden Center is a Vietnamese shopping plaza with dozens of restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores, where you can stock up on fresh noodles and fried tofu while sipping on buzz-inducing iced coffee. And Loving Hut is an adorable vegan restaurant chain (I mean, just look at their logo) that has mastered the whole vegetable protein thing.
Shopping for groceries at Eden Center was quickly sidelined in favor of sharing a vegetarian banh mi at Song Que Deli. For $3.75, you get a slice of baguette filled with caramelized tofu rounds, cilantro, gently pickled shredded carrots and daikon radish, onion, and jalapeno. The caramelized tofu was really smooth and pleasantly chewy with a nice flaky skin, the bread was crusty and fresh, and the vegetables and herbs added spice and zip.
We spent some time perusing different flavors of fried tofu, fat fresh udon noodles, mangos, and coconutty desserts before deciding it was time to eat again. Anupama bravely navigated us out of the parking lot (it’s kind of a free-for-all) and we headed to Loving Hut.
Loving Hut has a couple of shelves of groceries too, including MSG-free vegetarian mushroom sauce (good for brown sauce in stir-fries) and mushroom seasoning (good to toss with vermicelli for rice paper rolls).
We chose wonton noodle soup after reading about it in the Post, along with golden vermicelli with lemongrass protein and mixed vegetables and tofu.
The soup was a protein party: small chewy nuggets, strips of tofu ham, fried tofu cubes, and dumplings filled with mushrooms and shredded soy protein, all swimming in a rich and flavorful broth with noodles. We did wish for more vegetables (there wasn’t much Chinese broccoli or anything else to speak of) so we’ll request extra next time.
The golden vermicelli was more like a salad than a typical noodle bowl, with chopped fried spring rolls, soy protein, carrots, cucumbers, mint, and peanuts sitting on a bed of room-temperature rice noodles. The soy, marinated and flecked with tiny bits of lemongrass, was out of this world. Toss everything together with the homemade slightly sweet, slightly sour sauce and enjoy.
Plenty of other items will fulfill more traditional stir-fry cravings. We eyed the sesame eggplant tofu and lemongrass tofu with mixed vegetables before settling on a classic dish of tofu and mixed vegetables in brown sauce. We were glad to have something with a substantial vegetable component and it was solid, but nothing to write home about. Next time I’m going lemongrass all the way.
We left satisfied, stuffed, and carrying leftovers for the next day. With generous portions, high quality ingredients, and most entrees between $6-8, I guess it’s wishful thinking to expect Loving Hut to open a branch in the district any time soon.
2842 Rogers Drive
Falls Church, VA 22042