A celebration was in order Sunday afternoon, so a wonderful vegetarian friend and I headed to Hugo's Restaurant in Studio City (again). We decided to share three of October's specials: the Cauliflower Ceviche, Carrot Pancakes with Cashew Nut Icing, and South Indian Dosa.
The Cauliflower Ceviche was ingenious. Tasting essentially like a cauliflower salsa, this appetizer was my favorite of the three specials. It was spicy in a way that left a nice tingling heat on my lips and had the beautiful bite of fresh vegetables (from the menu: Cauliflower marinated in lemon and lime juice, blended with diced celery, cucumbers, jalapenos, cilantro and oregano. Served with crispy corn tortilla chips.). The tortilla chips were fried and, therefore, not vegan because they share a fryer with the calimari. Instead, we happily ate the ceviche with our spoons and left the chips behind. I already have ideas for making this at home.
I only tried a bite of the mixture inside the South Indian Dosa and had a taste of the chutneys, but not the crepe itself. The chutneys were sweet and spicy and the crepe filling was deliciously samosa-like (from the menu: Our dosa is a rice crepe filled with a mixture of potatoes, peas, sauteed onions and curry. Served with a cucumber salad, plain low-fat yogurt with mango-pumpkin chutney and cilantro-mint chutney. [We ordered it vegan and were not served the yogurt.]).
I really enjoyed the Carrot Pancakes with Cashew Nut Icing (from the menu: Organic gluten free vegan pancakes, with walnuts, molasses, ginger, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon, topped with sliced bananas, candied walnuts and a cashew nut icing.). They had the flavors of carrot cake, but were not sweet, which I much preferred. The "icing" wasn't particularly sweet either; it was quite thin, seemingly diluted with orange juice. What a great idea to essentially deconstruct the ultra-sweet, ultra-fattening carrot cake and create not very sweet pancakes instead.
The Hugo's chefs are incredibly innovative (in fact, there are still two October specials left that I'd like to try) and do an amazing job of considering the vegans in their midst.