When you're billing yourself as "The Ultimate in Japanese and Chinese Cuisine," you had better be prepared to live up to that lofty moniker each and every time a customer walks into your establishment. However Lotus, an Asian bistro located at 345 Conklin Street, has the good fortune to live up to its name, delivering fine dining at a solid price.
Lotus provides a very contemporary Asian dining experience, with a dark atmosphere complimented by it's stylish decor that eschews traditional Eastern trappings in favor of more modern furnishing. In fact, if it wasn't for the huge sushi counter dominating the far wall, we might never have guessed that it was a Asian restaurant at all, until we looked at the menu.
The Dish: The Sesame Chicken lunch combo ($7.50). The lunch specials at Lotus are actually very reasonable, delivering a hearty serving of grub for your hard-earned dollar. To start off your meal, you get to choose between several different soups or salads and we chose the Won Ton soup. Next up, our main course consisted of the Sesame Chicken with a side of either white or vegetable fried rice. We opted for the white rice instead and a nice, tall glass of ice water rounded out our meal, all of which was served very quickly.
How's It Taste: The Won Ton soup was solid but unremarkable. Really, once you get past the two dumplings, scallions, and onions, all you're left with is a bowl of thin, plain broth. But you could say the same of the Won Ton soup of any establishment of this type, so that's not really a knock on Lotus. Besides, the leftover Won Ton broth is easily pushed aside in favor of the main course and, rest assured, you want to make sure you leave room for it.
The Sesame Chicken at Lotus, while not the best ever, is certainly pretty close. Now, at your average Asian restaurant, a piece of Sesame Chicken usually amounts to a great big ball of dough with a pea-sized nugget of chicken inside. Not here. At Lotus, you get a nice hunk of tender, juicy, white meat chicken surrounded with just enough breading to give it flavor and texture. And, unlike most restaurants, the Sesame Chicken here comes smothered in an extraordinary amount of thick, delicious Sesame sauce. Oh, and the white rice? Its white rice. It tastes the same everywhere and that's why we love mixing it with Sesame sauce, which makes a rather pedestrian side dish into something special. Kudos to Lotus for supplying enough sauce with their Sesame Chicken to enable that.
Sides: Typical for an Asian restaurant. The combo came with a large basket of fried noodles with a side of duck sauce. Unfortunately, the noodles were a tad too crisp, tasting almost stale, and the duck sauce a little on the watery side. Still, much like pizza, even bad fried noodles ain't that bad. We dare you not to pick at them while waiting for lunch.