Mock Chicken Drumsticks, Mock Chicken and Potato Curry, Pot Stickers
Occupation: Dance Choreographer
Favorite Restaurant: Golden Lotus
Reviewed Golden Lotus: Tuesday June 12, 2007
This is one of the best vegan restaurants I have been to. As a vegetarian, a typical menu offers only a small number of choices, but at Golden Lotus, the entire menu is vegan and gives me the sense of being a kid in a candy store.
A friend and I arrived at the end of lunch to an almost full house. The space is small and cozy with moderate decor and only one electric waterfall "painting." The waitstaff is business friendly, but I'm there for the food, not to feel like a VIP. I can't count how many times I have been to this restaurant, but it still takes time to decide what to eat from the lengthy menu. This time I ended up staying within my standard favorites: chicken drumsticks as an appetizer, potato and chicken curry, beef with pineapple and rice.
The chicken drumsticks have this amazingly close to real texture and are breaded with a crispy coating and served with a sweet tamarind dipping sauce. The fake chicken in the potato and chicken curry has a slightly different texture than the drumsticks and adds good substance and novelty to the sweet and earthy flavor of the yellow curry, which can hold its own alone. While the pineapple beef was my friend's choice, it isn't one I usually order for myself. I don't think the mock beef is as good as the chicken, but the overall flavor is still delicious with the red peppers, onions, and pineapple creating a good mix of flavors. As an extra splurge, I saved room for the mocha cake. You would never know its vegan because it sure does not lack anything!
The decor of Golden Lotus is warm and comfortable. Again, attentiveness might be lacking, but the service is prompt and helpful. For vegetarians it is definitely worth the visit; for non-vegetarians it is worth the experimenting!
Occupation: A/V Specialist and Vocalist
Location: Los Gatos
Favorite Restaurant: Aldo's Ristorante & Bar
Reviewed Golden Lotus: Monday May 28, 2007
Anyone who has lived in the Bay Area for several years and enjoys Asian cuisine should know that we have a great selection of Chinese restaurants to choose from. The Golden Lotus in Oakland positions itself as a vegetarian restaurant. It is run by a friendly Vietnamese staff that is both kind and attentive.
I was skeptical about what my dining experience would be as I am not vegan, but I do like veggies. Upon examination of the menu I noticed that there were just as many meat dishes as vegetarian fare. We ordered Chicken Salad, Spicy Chicken, and Garlic Green Beans with Tofu. Although the salad was listed as an appetizer, it arrived well after the main courses. The portions were large and the prices extremely reasonable. I was disappointed with the Chicken Salad, but I did enjoy the Spicy Chicken and the Green Beans. The Vietnamese green tea was very unusual and complimented the food. Unfortunately, when I asked for a “to go” menu, I was told they were out of them.
The restaurant was one step shy of fast food décor. The booth was very difficult to get in and out of and I struggled with the metal support post that trapped my feet and knees. The bathroom was a horrible mix of janitor’s closet, store room, recycle area, and unisex bathroom in severe need of upgrades.
The Golden Lotus is located in an area of Oakland that is obviously Asian with very many Chinese restaurants to choose from. If you want some decent Chinese/Vietnamese food that is well prepared and affordable, order the meal to take out and enjoy it with friends and family at home. Not a destination, but decent food.
Occupation: TV Host and Producer
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: La Folie
Reviewed Golden Lotus: Saturday June 2, 2007
The Golden Lotus was a first for me. It’s a vegetarian restaurant, so straight away I was a little apprehensive about the food experience ahead. The restaurant it centrally located, blocks from the freeway (I was traveling from San Francisco) on Franklin Street in downtown Oakland. Parking was simple, a rock star parking space across the street from the restaurant. Love that.
I called ahead for a table for four and was told, “No problem, just come. Yes.” And then came the humming sound of a lost connection. She hung up. So, I was not entirely sure if we had a table or not, and the host seemed keen to get off the phone. I have a feeling the phone person was also serving and acting as host. So, I walk in with my dinner date, and my two former roommates are already seated. Hurrah.
It was noisy up front. Luckily we were seated in the rear where it is much more quiet. So to the menu -- WOW -- so much to choose from. Yes, over ninety options. Wait, confusion. The menu reads: "Chicken Satay," "Beef Satay," "Lemongrass Chicken." Is this really a vegetarian restaurant? We asked the waitress if there are non-veggie options? "Yes," she said, "just give me the number on the menu.” So from that we concluded that, YES, they are all veggie options and here they chose to title the dishes by their real, meaty names. Fair enough, great for me, because I now know what I am ordering.
So, to the food. We are family style, a bit of this, and a dollop of that. The servings were ample. We had three different servers approach our table to take orders, but once our one server settled, she efficiently took our orders. We tried to ask a few questions, but language barriers made that tough. It may have been my funny accent that got in the way. The food was quick to the table. Literally, with five minutes of ordering, the food came steaming out, all manner of delightful smells filled the air.
The spring rolls, loaded with carrots and spinach were fresh and tasty, I could not get enough of the thick peanut sauce. It was naughty but nice. The imperial rolls were doughy and soft, but once again it was the sauce that won me over, a tangy, ginger sauce that I could not get enough of. The won ton soup was piping hot and loaded with fresh vegetables. Yum. I ordered a large, so it could act as a main. Now, this next dish was the real test. The lemongrass “NOT” chicken over a cucumber and carrot salad. Sure, I could tell it was NOT chicken, it was a little dry, but the salad brought the moisture the “faux chicken” lacked.
Dessert? We were full, all four of us, and opted to skip dessert. We ventured to an old school ice cream parlour instead. The bill came, and we were happy, dinner for four for $59. Now that is value, and you do indeed get what you pay for. I will recommend to veggie pals. Not sure I will return.