I’m lucky enough to have this week off, so I visited my mom’s preschool this Wednesday for her cooking class. She does a special, weekly cooking class focusing on whole foods, making treats that are all vegan. Her students were very excited, open minded, and asked great questions.
After a nice visit and some pipe cleaner art, we went to Hugo’s Restaurant in Agoura Hills for lunch. I checked out their website before our visit and noticed that they were owned by the same people who run Hugo’s Tacos, one of my favorite places, so I was really excited to try something different from them.
What first struck me was how nice and clean their decor was. There was an air of fanciness that wasn’t stuffy. Their staff was also impressive. Our waitress first asked us if we were vegan, vegetarian, etcetera, then showed us the symbols on our menu that indicated which items were vegan or could be made vegan, but meat options were available. Just like their Hugo’s Tacos menu, most items could be made vegan. What was most exciting, though, was the variety of dishes offered. They have everything from pasta, sandwiches, wraps, salads, shepherd’s pie, to Indian food.
My mom, my sister Samantha, and I decided to eat sort of family style – and by that, I mean, eat off of each other’s plates. We each ordered a different entree and got an appetizer to share.
To start, we got the Asian Spring Rolls, which are described on their menu as “Vietnamese style spring rolls filled with sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, avocado, kelp noodles and fresh herbs with a mild sesame-chili dipping sauce”. They were fresh and tasty, although a little large. My favorite part was the mouth-watering sesame-chili dipping sauce. I could have eaten just that poured over broccoli and been very happy.
I ordered Tikka Masala Plate because prior to becoming vegan, I loooooved Chicken Tikka Masala. I absolutely love spicy Indian food and really wanted to try a vegan version. For this entree, you get a choice of their American veggie patties or grilled organic tofu. I chose the veggie patties. They come covered with an Indian inspired sauce of tomato, onions and spices and are served with turmeric rice, steamed broccoli and cilantro-mint chutney. It was a spot-on veganized Tikka Masala. It wasn’t as spicy as I like, but most restaurants don’t make traditionally spicy dishes spicy enough because they try to please everyone. It was a little heavy, but that’s probably because I ate too much since it was so good.
Probably my favorite element of the meal, though, was the sauce on my mom’s Pasta Victor. This is a pasta dish with tofu, garlic, sun dried tomato, corn, chilies, cilantro, parmesan cheese and a light chipotle-cream sauce. That cream sauce was incredible. I would totally buy it by the jar if they offered it. I would definitely order this for myself on another visit if I weren’t so excited to try everything on the menu one at a time.
Samantha ordered the Ginger-Tamari Salad with herb marinated organic grilled tofu cooked in a sauce of tamari, orange juice, mango chutney, ginger, garlic and scallions. Served atop finely sliced Napa cabbage and baby bok choy blended with slices of roasted sweet pineapple, julienne red peppers and yellow squash. Garnished with black sesame seeds and pickled ginger. This salad was pretty much tailor-made for her. She loves pickled ginger. It tasted fresh and light and the tofu was a very nice, firm texture with a flavorful marinade.
We were completely stuffed by the end of the meal, so we couldn’t try a dessert at the time. However, I got one to go because I couldn’t resist. I ordered the Brownie Tort, described on their website as “a wonderful chewy chocolate pecan brownie topped with a fudge frosting and a ripe strawberry. They are so full of whole ingredients we consider them a more nutritious food source than any ordinary dessert.” Since I ordered it spur of the moment at the end of our meal, it took a while to get it. Once the waitress brought it to the table, she kindly described how to warm it up at home. Many hours later, once the food coma wore off, I warmed up the torte and tried it. The slightly gooey top of the tort was delicious, although the rest was a bit dense and heavy. The strawberry was a lovely touch, though, cut into the shape of a flower.
I am already looking forward to my next visit to Hugo’s Restaurant and highly recommend it for groups with mixed diets, since it can please everyone. The only downside is the prices. You are definitely getting what you pay for, but Hugo’s is too pricy to be a casual, common dining establishment.