Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Visit to Loving Hut or: I Ate a Lotus Leaf Burrito.

Alright, so there's this Vietnamese woman, Ching Hai, who calls herself the "Supreme Master" and makes an excellent living peddling an eclectic feel-good Buddhism.  Wikipedia is happy to tell you all about her.

Among the Supreme Master's many business ventures is the Loving Hut chain of vegan restaurants.  There are several of these in Seoul and, being ostensibly vegetarian and wanting to experience at first hand some wacky Supreme Master kitsch, I recently visited one to be overcharged for a meal.

This Loving Hut is at the end of a narrow alley in Insadong.
Nicely appointed.
I'd have included Hitler to prove a point, but Loving Hut wants its diners to draw a different conclusion.

Supreme Master Ching Hai, like L. Ron Hubbard before her, has created a revenue stream by self-publishing books and foisting them on her followers.  The restaurant doesn't appear to sell any, but it has several placed within easy reach of most tables.  Thus I was able to enjoy The Dogs in My Life, more than 200 pages of (bad) amateur photographs featuring the Supreme Master and dogs she's known and loved.
The Birds in My Life inexplicably includes this spread of the Supreme Master feeding raisins to monkeys.
The restaurant does sell some foodstuffs, e.g. this sauce made from Chinese vegetarians.

Surprise:  the Supreme Master is also a painter.  Personally, I think this placard rather overstates the value and significance of the work.

You be the judge:  an unquestionable success fully of power and beauty?
This is rice and some kind of bean stuff wrapped in lotus leaves and sold for $6.25.  It wasn't bad, actually, being hearty and having a distinct floury flavor I rather appreciated, but it was difficult to eat because the lotus leaves were tough as leather.

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