We made a trip to Melbourne recently, which ended up in tetris-ing the car with items from Ikea. FOUR TIMES. If you’ve ever bought more than you can take home (I’m looking at you, Shantael!), you’ll understand how stressful it is at the time – but how funny it is afterwards. We had to call someone with a ute to help, which was pretty embarrassing (thanks dad!). My boss likes to call Ikea “the relationship test”… I now understand why.
I was confident that the Ikea café wouldn’t have anything vegan for me to eat, so I did a quick Google on the way and found this post at Veganopulous about Loving Hut in Richmond. My eyes glazed over at the sight of the “lucky rainbow pockets”, so I insisted on stopping there, despite the horrendous traffic/lack of parking.
Loving Hut [Richmond, Melbourne]
10/242 Victoria St
Richmond, Victoria 3121
P:(03) 9427 8916
The lucky rainbow pockets didn’t disappoint (though leaving my camera at home did!). These were soft with a bit of crunch at the bottom and the flavour was a perfect balance of sweet and salty. I couldn’t resist ordering them again on our second visit.
Mr. AA went for the crispy fried wontons – and like me, he loved them so much that he ordered them again the following week! The flavour was so good that I didn’t even bother with the sweet chili sauce.
The lemongrass tofu was tasty but was listed with the mains and only came on a bed of shredded lettuce (no noodles or rice with it, you have to order that separately). It was far too much tofu for one person – but for people who are sharing dishes, it’s great. The sauce was thick and the tofu had a firm exterior but a soft centre.
I couldn’t resist ordering from the specials board – for anyone who is unaware, phở is a Vietnamese noodle soup that’s pronounced kinda like “fur”. I chose the gluten free option which was all rice noodles – the normal option contains mixed noodles. As you can imagine, when the phở was served, I promptly had an internal freak out. Mock meat, my arch nemesis. We meet again… I should have known – phở is supposed to have beef in it. I think it mostly took me by surprise because I was in a vegan-dedicated restaurant and I forget that mock meat even exists most of the time because I generally don’t eat it.
While I hated the idea of being rude, I had to pick off all the mock meat and the tofu skin. Mr. AA convinced me to try both, and I did, but they were just too chewy for me/not my thing. The broth, however, was TOTALLY OUT OF THIS WORLD. I was mmm-ing and ahh-ing with every slurp and telling Mr. AA that I could easily drink just the broth. Every day. For breakfast, even! I’ve made phở from a recipe before at home and I remember loving it, but not like this. This was definitely better.
We grabbed a couple of slices of raw cheesecake to go, and I’d eaten them both before we even parked at Ikea (which is only a block away) and as I neared the end, with a mouthful of deliciously mousse-y cake I turned to Mr. AA and said “I hope you didn’t want any of this…”
On our second visit, we decided to try different mains and again, we shared. This was the laksa and it was seriously tasty (though not as good as Mr. AA’s laksa). Like the phở from the week before, it was an epic serve that was really filling. The tofu puffs retained lots of flavour and were beautifully spongy, not tough.
The Burmese salad had both a raw and a regular option – I chose the regular one. I suspect the only difference would be the crunchy stuff sprinkled on top (it was like a Bombay/Bhuja mix which is an Indian trail mix/snack food). This was quite possibly the BEST salad I’ve ever eaten. All the ingredients were so fresh and fragrant… Every mouthful was exciting! The dressing was sweet and tangy but subtle and scarce so the produce could shine. From memory it contained mesclun greens, mixed herbs (including mint, coriander and Vietnamese mint), green apple, pumpkin, red cabbage, oranges, tomatoes and a whole lot of awesome.
I grabbed the blueberry cheesecake to go the second time – it was good, but not as nice as the lemon or chocolate. I think I was mostly just weirded-out by the jelly-like layer on top.
And just because I can, here’s another photo of that incredible salad!