Thursday 6 August 2009

Loving Huts & Supreme Master Ching Hai

This post is now updated by this much more recent article on all religious and spiritual groups in Taiwan.

The Loving Huts are an international chain of vegan restaurants run by followers of the Supreme Master Ching Hai, a Vietnamese-born spiritual leader with hundreds of thousands of followers worldwide, with the majority being in Taiwan and the USA, but increasing numbers all around the world, including China. She promises her followers that they can reach enlightenment by meditating for at least two and a half hours each day, and by following her “five precepts”: “Refrain from harming any living being. Refrain from speaking what is not true. Refrain from taking what is not mine. Refrain from sexual misconduct. Refrain from using intoxicants.” While she is very open about the fact that these precepts are unique to most religions (perhaps closest in practice to Buddhism), Supreme Master Ching Hai is unique in that her and her disciples follow the first one through to a vegan lifestyle.

Her organisation, the Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association, as well as running the Loving Hut Chain, also runs Supreme Master Television (, a worldwide, non-profit (advertisement-free) television station, which presents a variety of documentaries on the personal, social and environmental benefits of a vegan diet, interviews with and lectures by Supreme Master Ching Hai, “noteworthy” (good) news, and a rolling clip with quotes from various religious scriptures endorsing a vegetarian diet. The station was originally available on cable TV all around the world, advertisement free, however it has since stopped this (very expensive) service, and mostly stopped producing new programs (except occasional videoconferences) but old programs can still be viewed online.

Supreme Master Ching Hai also runs a disaster relief organisation, and sends specially-trained crews to disaster-stricken areas around the world. Climate change, its connection to agriculture, and the importance of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions are central to her philosophy and message.

The Loving Hut chain is undoubtedly the largest vegan business in existence, with around 160 branches in around 20 countries, including over forty in Korea.

Since their aim is to introduce veganism to non-vegans, their food is designed to be palatable to omnivores, but as a vegetarian of over twenty years, I still enjoy it. In Taiwan, most serve a similar set of meals which consist of a main dish (often fake meat based) plus a plate of rice, vegetables and soup, while most branches have their own specialty dishes too. A notable exception is the Guang Fu branch in Taipei, which serves hotpots, which should be on the must-visit list of anyone travelling to Taiwan. While most claim to be international, it must be said it's more (Asian) intercontinental, with a few western comfort foods like French Fries sold at all branches, and burgers at a few. A simple Loving Hut meal usually runs under 100NT, with a meal, drink and dessert about 200- 250NT. A few more upmarket ones, such as those around Zhong Xiao Fuxing and Taipei 101 are naturally more expensive, but still excellent value. While 'rice and noodle stands' are cheaper, Loving Huts are among the best value meals in Taiwan.

A related company, Light Light Industry produces an ever-growing range of frozen foods and baked goods – including fake meats, breads, soy ice cream and sorbet, cakes and cheesecake - which can be purchased in freezers from many restaurants or ordered online. It's now also creeping into mainstream grocery stores, including Jasons, FE 21 and the Tomato supermarket chain. Because loving huts use these products, which are made from basic (GM free) ingredients by their own company, and because chefs and other staff are all members of the organisation, Loving Huts are one place that you really can let down your guard and just eat anything you like, and if a menu doesn't have English (most do) just point to a picture, wait and enjoy. While fake meat at other restaurants is likely to contain dairy (despite assurances that “no, it's just mushrooms and tofu”), and the serious risk of real meat in “fake” meat, you really can bet a chook's life on the fact that Loving Hut food is well and truly vegan.

vegan groceries from the (now closed) Zhong Yuan branch (2010 photo). I used to take a chilli bin and load up, and lug my groceries back on the train. Memories...
The good work done by Supreme Master Ching Hai and her association is undeniable: thousands are turning vegan due to her and her followers' influence, and many more are being introduced to the effects of agriculture on the environment for the first time. Vegan restaurants are springing up around the globe, and here in Taiwan, veganism has gone from being virtually unheard of to a label commonly found on foods from 7-11 meals to chewing gum. The widespread use of the vegan label on food is undoubtedly due to the efforts of her organisation in Taiwan.

But Supreme Master Ching Hai is not without her critics: her organisation is commonly labelled a cult, usually by people who are unfamiliar or less familiar with her organisation. Criticisms are usually to the tune that she portrays veganism as something crazy cult followers adhere to, rather than something for the mainstream, and that the “slightly cultish undertones” (in the words of a reader of my blog) on Supreme Master Television - which plays at all Loving Huts, usually visible on at least one TV from each and every table – reinforce this message. Another complaint is that the LHs are often staffed by unpaid volunteers, which is seen as taking advantage of naive (often young) members, who they say should at least receive the minimum wage for their work.

Indeed many people raised in Western countries find the idea of a Supreme Master title somewhat disconcerting. I too had similar reservations about the group when I first learned about them many years ago (originally when I worked with a disciple in New Zealand, though I became much more comfortable with it once I learned more about the organisation in Taiwan, mostly from disciples I met at Loving Huts and through Facebook).

However, despite the usually knee-jerk reactions of Westerners, to people raised in Buddhist or Taoist countries, including most of North East Asia, the idea of a spiritual Master is nothing unusual, and the title gives her credibility in the eyes of people with this 'Eastern' world view, and this is clearly reflected in the success of the organisation, with its thousands of members active in promoting the vegan message, Loving Huts and other restaurants and meditation centres all around the world. A disciple who helped me write this article also explained that the title is a reminder that we each have a supreme master within us, and the Quan Yin method simply teaches everyone how to find it.

The Supreme Master title is perhaps (in my opinion) not the best translation of the Chinese (Wu Xiang Shi) which literally translates to 'no higher teacher'. Some people are also uncomfortable with the capitalisation of Her name and title, however it's important to note that her organisation uses capital letters to denote anything of divinity, including God, Buddha, Jesus, Heaven, Higher-Self etc.

But however one feels about the Supreme Master title, her loyal following or the televisions playing as they eat their vegan burgers, there can be no doubt that with its Loving Huts and widespread vegan advertising campaigns, the organisation is highly successful at promoting veganism (and environmental awareness), perhaps reaching more people than any animal rights organisation in the world, and its converts are indeed ordinary people who lead ordinary lives. And as for the volunteers, all permanent, full-time staff are paid a live-able wage, while some staff choose to come from abroad for an intern-like arrangement, receiving no monetary compensation for their work but having their food and accommodation taken care of. These volunteers are happy to work without pay in exchange for the training and experience they receive, plus of course the opportunity to travel abroad and promote the vegan message.

 Also, there is no expectation on followers to commit any time to Loving Huts; a small percentage choose to work or volunteer if and when they can because they believe in spreading the vegan message. In fact, and I can say this very confidently, coming from close friends in the organisation, there is no expectation to give anything to the organisation at all, and the organisation does not take any form of donations, and most followers do not volunteer any time at Loving Huts or other work by the organisation. Most Loving Huts run at little if any profit, with profit being invested in new branches or spent on charitable work by the association, and maintaining their many websites (including Supreme Master Television, which still plays repeat programs and occasional new video-conferences). So in many ways volunteers for LHs are no different from volunteers for animal rights / vegan organisations around the world which also employ paid, full-time staff. I see their operation and use of volunteers as no different to when, many years ago, I travelled to the US to do an internship at PETA, who paid for my food and accommodation while I was there.

I come from a background of activism against animal-industries, including many protests outside factory farms, fur shops etc. An interesting moot among activists I know has always been how much time and energy we should devote to being 'anti' bad things (eg protests), and how much we should spend promoting the benefits of veganism and supporting people in the transition towards it. While the association's flyers certainly highlight the harm done to animals and the planet by the animal industries, the majority of their work focuses on the positive promotion the vegan message, particularly through the Loving Hut chain, and the rapid rise of veganism in Taiwan is testimony to how effective this strategy can be, in Taiwan at least. So while I still think there is a place for protest, it's been quite an eye-opener to see such rapid change driven by such a different means to what I've always been familiar with.

Supreme Master Ching Hai is independently wealthy, largely as a result of her own art, perfume, interior decorations and fashion design businesses. Critics say it sells overpriced items to her followers, and indeed many of her products are very expensive, but prices are in line with other top quality jewelry and fashion items in their class, and they are willing purchases by people who wish to buy the products, just as are those of people who choose to spend their money on labelled fashion items. And the money raised is used to support the work of the organisation in promoting the vegan message and disaster relief.

All publicity done by the organisation, including many stalls held by members, banners, billboards, bumper stickers on taxis, advertisements in the Subway and many others all focus on promoting veganism (with the catch phrase “Be veg, go green 2 save the planet”) and very little on promoting themselves, or even their restaurants.

an advertisement advising people to "go vegan to save the planet" in Taipei Main Station

Most religions (including Christianity, Buddhism and Islam) began as small followings around one person, which then grew into the global religions they are today. So perhaps the difference between a "cult" and a religion is the size of its following and how long it has been around. And what other spiritual leader promotes compassion for all animals, a vegan diet and a strong environmental message? Or what other religious organisation sends all-vegan relief into disaster-stricken areas of the world? Supreme Master Ching Hai endorses most religious teachings, often citing a range of scriptures (while claiming, as do most historians, that the scriptures of most of the world's major religions have been changed over time) and programs on Supreme Master Television frequently play scriptures from a variety of religions showing that they support vegetarianism.

A poster outside the (now-closed) Yuan Man Loving Hut, extolling the virtues of a vegan diet.
Here in Taiwan, veganism is associated almost entirely with Supreme Master Ching Hai's followers. Following the recent addition by vegans around the world of Ⓥ to their facebook name, I began, for the first time ever, adding “friends” I didn't know, in an effort to get to know more than the two vegans I knew personally in Taiwan. A reply from one new facebook friend, having read my blog and seen my photos of vegan food adventures around Taiwan, finished a reply “maybe I'll meet you at Hsihu one day”. Hsihu is the location of the Ashram where Supreme Master Ching Hai lived with her disciples in the 1990s, and where disciples now come from all over Taiwan on weekends to meet, relax, eat, read and meditate.
As it happens, I was recently invited to Hsihu by a devoted, friendly, outgoing disciple who, having lived in Canada, teaches English to other disciples and translates for Supreme Master TV. We met recently when a student of hers, and staff member at the Jhongli Loving Hut, called her in to help explain something to me, after which she appeared from her apartment within minutes. She offered to take me to both the Hsihu centre and the Light Light factory (which makes the LH foods range). We arranged that I would meet her outside her apartment in Jhongli at 7:30 in two week's time.

So early on a Sunday morning, we're were being driven down the freeway with a family of five towards Hsihu, in Maoli County. On arrival, dozens of vested volunteers guide cars into parking spaces, from which it's a short walk past roadside stalls selling fresh produce and other vegan products to the entrance, at which she signs in with an electronic system, using her ID card (which lists the five precepts on the back, as if a reminder) and I sign in by hand. I'm given a VIP (read non-initiate) card – to be worn at all times - which entitles me to everything except entrance to initiate-only areas, such as group meditation centres.

The size and beauty of the place strike me first as I enter. The centre started out as an empty block of land, which Supreme Master Ching Hai bought for her disciples to live and practise at, and has been turned into a tranquil, park-like environment, with trees, gardens, ponds and streams, and plenty of resting spots. Hundreds of disciples are sitting under trees or small shelters, on chairs and mats they have brought with them, meditating, reading or just spending time with friends and family. It's hard to estimate the numbers, but I'm told that on a busy weekend, up to two thousand will come on a single day. As well as the large, group-meditation shelters open only to initiates, there are smaller shelters with TVs playing Supreme Master TV, and a simple dining area serving a delectable range of vegan cakes (better even than Loving Huts currently serve), coffee and other drinks, at very low prices. There was also a stall promoting and selling Light Light Industry's new range of fruit pies, with an international marketing team at work in the background. Further up the mountain are caves where the master and her disciples lived in the 1990s, but this area was also off limits to "VIP"s (non-initiates).

Perhaps in keeping with the international nature of the organisation and their work, many disciples spoke English, and were happy to talk to a foreign “VIP”. There I met a New Zealand-Taiwanese I had met at the Golden Age (a disciple-run vegan restaurant in Auckland) who was now working for Light Light, and a Singaporean disciple told me her story of how she had moved through several spiritual groups, all of whom wanted money for everything, before finding Supreme Master Ching Hai's Quan Yin method and organisation best for her.

Indeed, despite much negative publicity claiming that the organisation extorts large sums of money from its members, at their largest centre, nowhere was I asked for money, nor did there seem to be any system for disciples to donate anywhere on the premises, in stark contrast to gathering of most religious and spiritual groups. Lunch, which reminded me of Hare Krishna food for its simple-but-delicious style (different in that it had less spice but still plenty of flavour, and no milk curd to watch out for), was served free to everyone there, which disciples lined up for carrying their own reusable crockery. The volunteer cooks are not allowed to talk while they prepare the food, instead chanting special words, which is believed to infuse good spiritual properties into the food. Where does the money come from to support this large centre and the disciples who live there? There was a small, busy shop selling range of Supreme Master Ching Hai's products, including fashion clothes, home décor and jewelry  which, though I'm no connoisseur of any such items, to me did look very beautiful. There were also a large number of photos of Supreme Master Ching Hai and related paraphernalia for sale. Attached was what seemed like a small private shop, selling drinks, snacks and supplements, of course all vegan, and selling at prices lower than one would find anywhere else.

A common criticism of the organistaion is that it preys on gullible, vulnerable members of society for their money and support. Followers I met, however, included some of Taiwan's elite, such as academics and students from the nation's top universities. The handful of old cars in the carpark, however, were testimony to the fact that one doesn't need to be a nanophysicist at Taipei Academia Sinica (I've met two) to be accepted into the organisation either.
Many vegans, especially perhaps those from western, non-religious (or Judeo-Christian) backgrounds, may find elements of the Supreme Master Ching Hai Association – but not their food - hard to swallow. Personally, while I recognised the good work they do early on, I was myself somewhat cynical of her organisation, especially the meditation and enlightenment components, and found its mix with secular vegan philosophy somewhat disconcerting. But the more I have gotten to know her teachings and her disciples, the more impressed I have become with the philosophy and practice.

However, whatever one personally thinks of the sixty-year-old Vietnamese Spiritual Master and her hundreds of thousands of vegan followers, what deeply disappoints me is the amount of animosity in the vegan/AR movement towards them. People are often quick to point out a few anecdotal, often third-hand stories of alleged wrongdoings of members of her organisation, or to turn their nose up at the spiritual ideas, and fail to do justice to the enormous benefits of hundreds of vegan restaurants opening around the world, which surely should be of greatest interest to any vegan working to promote a better world for all its inhabitants. The followers of Supreme Master Ching Hai have the same mission as all sincere vegan activists around the world, they just organise differently and hold different spiritual beliefs. Their message, through their television station, restaurants and all-vegan aid programs, almost certainly reaches further around the world than that of most other (secular) animal rights groups, and their association probably has more active members. None of their TV or material is copyrighted, and copying and distribution of it is encouraged, and all their members I have met have been keen to work with any and all activists working for the same cause. It's about time this cooperative attitude was reciprocated, and they were given the respect by the movement they deserve.


There are two 'warnings' about the Supreme Master Ching Hai Association and the LHs I should give to foreign visitors, neither of which are criticisms of the organisation but rather just notes for new, non-Chinese speaking arrivals. First, in order to promote veganism to the target audience of people eating at vegetarian restaurants, they have found many (perhaps all) vegetarian restaurants and bakeries in Taiwan and placed a banner promoting veganism outside them, but since they tend to use the word 'vegan' in English, it's the only English word on the banner. So this banner does not mean the restaurant is vegan. Foreigners sometimes tell me "I found a vegan restaurant on X road you might be interested in... I know it was vegan because it had a big banner up saying vegan..." 

Besides the Loving Huts, there are some other restaurants run by SMCH disciples. These can generally be identified by large pictures of her and/or vegan promotional messages (eg famous vegetarians) on the walls and of course SMTV playing on televisions, and at these restaurants of course all the food will be vegan. But a vegan banner outside a restaurants and/or sticker or two inside is probably just put up by passing disciples, so expect dairy and/or egg to be served and/or in the fake meats in such restaurants.

2014 update: these particular banners are long gone now, but similar ones have been used since then so the same rule applies: a vegan banner is great for promoting veganism, but it doesn't mean the restaurant is vegan.
This banner, outside virtually every vegetarian eatery in Taiwan, is great promotion of the vegan message. But it does not mean that all the food served here is vegan.

The second warning: don't only eat at the LHs while in Taiwan! You arrive at a new town (or finish sightseeing in a new suburb of Taipei), it's late and you're hungry, so you search Google Maps for the nearest Loving Hut, and off you go to have a delicious vegan meal; it's too easy. While LHs are the staple on-the-road meal of many vegans in Taiwan, including this blogger, even if you are only here for a few days and stay in the major cities, you should at least eat at one big all-you-can-eat buffet like Evergreen, one ordinary pay-by-weight buffet (or Loving Vegan), and try at least one small “rice and noodle stall”. For everything else, on a day-to-day level, there's Loving Huts.

I used to try (never very successfully) to keep this list updated with all the Loving Huts. However now with the prevalence of Google Maps and the Happycow website (and app) there seems little point, especially given that I don't currently live in Taiwan and that they tend to come (and unfortunately go) quite quickly. So I now focus on those likely to be of most interest to visitors to Taipei, and how they could be part of a travellers itinerary. For an up-to-date list, see the Loving Hut Website.

Huai Ning / 懷寧 Branch (close to Taipei Main Station)
The First Loving Hut: Huai Ning Branch, Taipei
This store is to Loving Huts what the original Seattle store is to Starbucks. I still remember my first visit, back in 2009, with visiting Peta staff and local activists. I remember being surprised that I hadn't heard of this restaurant before, and of course had no idea of the worldwide chain it was to become.

There's nothing special about the menu, but it serves the standard Loving Hut favourites, and (like everywhere) prices are very reasonable. What makes this Loving Hut so convenient is that it's so close to Taipei Main Station. 

Simple and satisfying, I never get sick of this Loving Hut meal. I usually have it at the Huai Ning Branch, but this Thai Lemongrass Curry is served at many Loving Huts, and is apparently especially popular with foreigners.

This Loving Hut is in between Taipei Main Station, so it's worth visiting 2-28 Peace Park, the Taiwan Museum and this Loving Hut all in one few hours. It would also tie in with a trip to Ximen Ding and a meal at Veggie Joy.

National Taiwan Museum, 2-28 Peace Park, close to Huaining Loving Hut.
Address: No.44, Huaining St., Jhongjheng
District, Taipei City 100, Taiwan
Address in Chinese:

How to get there:
From the ground floor of the Taipei Main Station, walk out any of the South Exits. You will walk out into a paved area. Keep walking until you get to ZhongXiao West Road, and then walk west (that's to the right if facing the road) until you reach a pedestrian crossing. Opposite, you will see NOVA, a large yellow computer market. Cross the street and walk down this street (South). You will go past NOVA on your right, and the Shin Kong Mitsukoshi building (Taipei's second tallest building) on your left. Continue past Kaifong St to the right, Syuchang St to the left, and then turn right down HanKou St. Walk for one block until you get to Dante Coffee. Before you reach it, turn left into Huai Ning St. The Loving Hut is a few doors down on the right, just past Burger King.

View Loving Hut Huaining Branch & Around (Vegan Taiwan) in a larger map

Guang Fu / 光復 Branch

This Loving Hut specialises in Hotpots, a common Taiwanese (and Japanese, and Chinese) food style in which the diners are given broth and raw vegetables, tofu etc, and cook them themselves, at their tables, using either small gas stoves or at more upmarket places, induction cookers built into the tables (so be careful with what you put on the table). It is quite a social occasion, and families and other groups often talk as they place their food into the communual boiler, and then take bits out at a time when they are done.

Hotpots from the GuangFu Loving Hut

 Hotpots are usually a vegan's nightmare, as the stock usually contains animal ingredients. I have eaten as part of a school group at a conventional place, and they gave me water to cook my own vegetables and tofu in. However, for many vegans, watching people boil and eat flesh at their tables is not conjusive to a pleasant meal.

Guang Fu Loving Hut

  While this is not the only vegetarian hotpot restaurant in Taipei, it is the best I have found, and I recommend anyone visiting Taiwan try here at least once.

Address: No.30, Lane 280, Guangfu South Rd, Da-an District, Taipei City.
Address in Chinese (as an image):


How to Get There
Take the MRT to Sun Yat Sen memorial Hall, one stop before Taipei City Hall (for Taipei 101).Walk out exit two and keep going in the same direction. Visible down the third lane (to be confirmed) to the right is the Loving Hut.

Summer 2012 Update 
The Guang Fu Loving Hut now has a delicious new summer menu, which includes many fresh salad-type meals. So if you're visiting Taiwan, a hotpot is a must,but if you live here and 40 degree heat doesn't bring on any taste for boiled foods, try their new summer menu.


Zhubei Branch

When the Loving Hut arrived in Zhubei  towards the end of my stay in Hsinchu it was the only safely vegan restaurant (run by vegan staff) in the city, and despite it being a good half hour's scooter ride from my home and work, I used to ride there quite regularly, and stock up on healthy food at its attached organic shop. I now see that it has been moved to a more central location in Zhubei, which is great news, as the old location was good for people who worked at the industrial part it was located inside, but for everyone else it was quite a hike to get there. I don't know whether or not it still sells any groceries.

It is located 1km from the Zhubei Train Station. It's not the nicest area for walking around, so if possible I recommend riding a scooter or (if possible) taking a taxi.

View Larger Map
Note: I am yet to visit this new location of the Loving Hut myself, so have not confirmed this location myself. I will post more details when I next visit.

No.37, Minquan St., Zhubei City, Hsinchu County 302, Taiwan


Miaoli Lian He Branch

The Miaoli Loving Hut is a small, welcoming restaurant in Miaoli City. 

Miaoli Loving Hut

I used to ride my scooter through Miaoli, and always lived county, at least its countryside. I often went to the Miaoli Loving Hut for dinner after visiting Hsihu. 

A Miaoli LH dinner. I can't remember what it's called.

I always used to head straight back to Hsinchu for the long ride home, but I'm not aware of much to see in Miaoli City, though it's always interesting to have a stroll around a small city, especially during the evening.

The Miaoli LH specialty, made from mushrooms, were a little too greasy for my palate, but they did have a delicious peppery seasoning, and are probably very popular with omnivores (who Loving Huts are designed to serve).

View Miaoli Loving Hut in a larger map

No.1051, Zhongzheng Rd., Miaoli City, Miaoli County 36052 Taiwan


TaiChung Branch

The Taichung branch is what could be expected for a LH in Taichung's third largest city. It has a spacious, pleasant dining area and a standard LH menu with two specialities shown below: black pepper udon (not dissimilar to the new 7-11 meal, but much, much fresher and tastier) and small potato nuggets, similar perhaps to hash browns, but with much more flavour.

How to Get There
Unfortunately for the visitor, it is a reasonably long distance from the train station, so unless you have your own transport, you'll need to take a taxi (unless you live in Taichung and have mastered its bus system).
No.266, Sec. 4, Hankou Rd., North District, Taichung City 404.

Black pepper noodle and 酥皮河漫飯 (It literally translates to crispy river rice or similar, but is more like a hash brown with more flavour, and is actually delicious.) Both are specialities of the Taichung Loving Hut.
2013: It didn't seem to be on the menu when I visited in April 2013.


ZhanChien Branch

I have a few favourite cities in Taiwan, and a few favourite Loving Huts, but Kaosiung is up there for both. When I first arrived in Taiwan six years ago, and got off the then-new HSR at Zuoying I thought there was a gas leak, due to the pollution. However a good mayor and changing values are turning Kaohsiung from a polluted industrial city spoilt by its petrochemical industries to what is fast becomming one of Asia's most liveable cities. And the new Taiwan Rail Pass make it so easy and affordable to get there, even on a short trip to Taiwan.

Being both Asia's most free democracy, with elections seemingly always occurring somewhere for something, and a highly competitive, capitalistic society, advertising trucks with loudspeakers are commonplace. But this truck is about to take off from the Kaohsiung Loving hut to do the rounds extolling the virtues of a vegan diet: "Be veg, Go Green, To Save the Planet!".
And while there, be sure to visit the Loving Hut, which unlike so many others is walkable from the train station. The Kaohsiung Loving Hut serves typical vegan fare, including a few of its own specialities. 
My favourite Kaohsiung LH Dish (2010): Soy fish with a delicious spicy chilli sauce.

 No.283, Jhongshan 1st Rd., Sinsing District, Kaohsiung City 800, Taiwan

View Larger Map

While in Kaohsiung I always stay at the Riverside Hotel, just around the corner from the Loving Hut (so also walkable from the train station). Like most in its class of simple hotels, rooms are showing their age, but are clean and livable, and the friendly owner speaks English (and Japanese). Just don't be fooled by the name: it's a filthy inner-city canal.  



  1. Wow! Thank you so much for all this helpful information about the Loving Hut restaurants in Taiwan. I'm a vegetarian living in South Korea (which is almost impossible...), and plan on going to Taiwan for Christmas. I'm excited because Taiwan seems to have a lot more vegetarian restaurants than Korea.

    ~ Joy ~

  2. Hi Joy
    Look's like you're having fun in Korea.
    I have been to Korea a few times, but only for a couple of days at a time (visa and transfers) and had no problems for food because I was only in the main centres, so found enough on the happy cow. But I understand that in 'real' Korea, it can be difficult, and certainly harder than here in Taiwan.
    I'll in New Zealand for Xmas, but let me know if you have any questions at all about Taiwan. Have a great time here :)

  3. heeey. It's so cool that you came to our shop yesterday. We're the one located outside the Jong (Jung? Zhung? Zhong? god my chinese is terrible) Yuan Christian University in Taoyuan.

    I came in to work this morning and my friend was like "omg, hot american guy came into the shop yesterday while you were away" . I was like.. "mkaaaaaaaay"

    Anyhoo~ it's so great what you're doing with the blog. Promoting the healthy lifestyle and all :D

    Do come by again when you have the time. (although, i admit, i much prefer the Taipei branch better than Toayuan. Don't tell my manager i said that ;] lol)

    cheerios ~

  4. Hi spray_paint_xcore!

    Thanks for the comment... and finding my blog :)

    Actually I go to the Taipei (Huai Ning) branch more often too cos it's so close to the main station, but the meal at yours (Zhong Yuan or Chung Yuan depending on your political persuations I think :) was the best I've had at any LH yet. And the frozen section was great too - I'll be back. I live in Hsinchu, so it's not a bad outing for a good vegal meal :)

    I'm curious that you say your Chinese is bad - you mean your pinyin is bad, or your Chinese in general? You've obviously lived in the US right?

    Might see you there sometime...


  5. We're lucky to now have a loving hut not too far from my house in south seattle. I've eaten quite a bit of their yummy Phở since they've opened! I'll look for them when I'm in Taiwan. Xiexie Ni!

  6. Hi Brett

    Have a great trip to Taiwan next week.


  7. @Joy, hi Joy there are many Loving Huts open in South Korea now. Here is a website with a list of Loving Huts all over the world including Korea