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Chapel HIll: Red Lotus

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Last night we tried Red Lotus, a new Chinese restuarant in Village Plaza (near Whole Foods). Red Lotus is very similar to Ming Garden on Airport Road: sleek and contemporary, serving unapologetically Americanized Chinese food with a lighter and more sophisticated touch than the typical take-away. This kind of restaurant does not appeal to me, but if you're the kind of person who likes General Tso's chicken and fried rice this is the place to eat it. Our menu:

Eggplant salad. Lightly fried eggplant pieces served atop a salad of iceberg lettuce, sliced tomatos, sliced cucumbers, and raw button mushrooms. The eggplant was nicely flavored and wonderfully light, but the salad called out for a side of blue cheese dressing and some saltines.

Kung pao chicken. The chicken was tender, but there was not much spice or flavor interest.

Beef ho fun. Beef tender, noodles slightly mushy. Flavor a bit bland.

Entrees are $9-$13. Portions are generous, and we wound up taking food home. Here's the website:

http://www.redlotusasiankitchen.com/

I noticed, by the way, the gratuitous and discourteous remarks made about my wife in a post on Friday (quickly removed). I've never seen a post less in the spirit of Chowhound.

Best,
Sinophile/David A.

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  1. Went there a few weeks ago, and had roughly the same opinion. Nice looking place, decent food but unexciting. The one thing that initially endeared me to the place was that they will substitute fake chicken in any of their entrees, and it's always nice to have an option like that. However, my enthusiasm took a nose dive when I bit into a piece of real chicken in whatever dish I got. I would brush it off, but it shows a lack of awareness in the kitchen, which isn't a good sign.

    1. i've had two disastrous meals there-- one for dinner and the other for lunch. both times the food was bland and poorly cooked. charlie's, for all its predictability, at least was tasty. too bad...

      1. i initially found this review while searching for Red Lotus after a friend of mine had recommended it to me. After reading the reviews of this site, i admit, i was a bit hesistant to go. But with the support of a friend i decided to try it out anyway. Here was my experience.

        First off, walking through the door, i noticed a huge change from charlie's. the decor was trendy and uplifting while the one red accent wall made the place feel inviting. THe large black and white photos on the walls, according to my server, were taken in house and looked great. Quite a transformation from what it used to look like... i was impressed...

        our menu consisted of this:
        -Red Lotus Curry Chicken
        -Genghis Khan beef
        -Salt and pepper calamari(appetizer)
        -hot and sour soup

        I'd like to start of saying, i have had hot and sour soup from many chinese/pan-asian restaurants, and i have to say, the soup was one of the best i have had in the area. The Salt and Pepper calamari was a great starter with just enough spice to eat it without the sauce (although that was quite delightful as well.) The genghis kahn beef was quite flavorful as was the red lotus curry. i was confused that the earlier posts stated how bland the food was, but i have to disagree with that. Maybe is was the items ordered. But since then, i have been back quite a few times, and i have to say, the food seems to get better every time i go back.

        The servers are quite consistent with their service and are quite friendly. I have to say though that it's almost become a weekly place that i visit with friends and also family.

        some of the items that i'd like to recommend are:
        -any of their curry dishes
        -Genghis Kahn
        -Fantasy Duck
        -Szechuan String beans
        -Singapore Noodles

        3 Replies
        1. re: SweetFever

          SweetFever, I think I speak for many people on this board when I say that you're gonna have to post opinions on several more eateries before a review like that is given any credibility. When a reputedly mediocre restaurant all the sudden gets a gushy review by somebody with no track record, it looks fishy. It strongly suggests that either (a) you don't know your food, or (b) you're working for the restaurant. Or both.

          1. re: durhamois

            I think you need to re-read the reviews. Of the three earlier reviews, only HeelsSoxHound's is negative. Statolith basically gave them a "Meh." David A's (Sinophile) review is actually quite complimentary:

            [quote]

            ... serving unapologetically Americanized Chinese food with a lighter and more sophisticated touch than the typical take-away. This kind of restaurant does not appeal to me, but if you're the kind of person who likes General Tso's chicken and fried rice this is the place to eat it.

            ... The eggplant was nicely flavored and wonderfully light ...

            Kung pao chicken. The chicken was tender, but there was not much spice or flavor interest.

            Beef ho fun. Beef tender, noodles slightly mushy. Flavor a bit bland.

            Entrees are $9-$13. Portions are generous, and we wound up taking food home

            [/quote]

            Compared to his takes on, e.g., Jujube, Lantern, Mama Dips, Jade Palace, Neo China, Grand Asia Market, it hardly sounds like he's calling it "mediocre."

            1. re: mclaugh

              Point well taken, mclaugh. My reference to Red Lotus being "reputedly mediocre" is more based on hearing friends say that they liked Charlie's better, rather than anything I've read on this message board. In any case, as a general rule from now on I'm gonna refrain from saying that "I think I speak for many," and instead I'll stick with speaking for myself.

              As someone who worked in restaurants for many years, though, I have to say it's not some weird conspiracy theory to think that a restaurant might put someone up to posting a positive review on a place like Chowhound. Not necessarily restaurant managers or owners themselves writing reviews under fake names; more likely that some friend of theirs gets encouraged to write something nice, and then the next time they eat at the place, voila!, their whole meal gets comped. Do I know for a fact that this is the case with SweetFever? No, I don't. But s/he has written absolutely nothing else on this board. And to characterize the review as "gushy" was an understatement: the entire post is written like a bad infomercial. Call me cynical, but I'm taking SweetFever's remarks with many, many grains of salt. If you on the other hand find that to be a credible review of Red Lotus, by all means follow your gut. Or stomach. Or palate, or whatever other body part leads you in these matters.

        2. Just to be clear: Red Lotus is not a bad place to eat...but only if you're a certain kind of eater...most likely not a Chowhound type. I recommended Red Lotus to my chicken-breast and Lean-Cuisine eating sister, but I would not recommend it to Chowhounders.

          Further clarifications:

          I eat at Grand Asia market every week or two, as we regularly make the long trip from Chapel Hill to stock the fridge. My surmise is that Grand Asia has multiple chefs of vastly differing skills. This explains why it's possible to have a meal that's distinctly excellent one week and a meal that's distinctly mediocre the next week. I continue to think the bakery very ordinary.

          I've been to Jujube only once. I had an unambiguously bad -- even terrible -- experience food-wise. Clearly, however, this experience was unrepresentative. I'm witholding judgment until I have the chance to make a few more visits.

          Neo-china belongs to the same category as Red Lotus. I haven't been in a few years, but I imagine that the two restaurants are fairly similar in quality and style of cuisine. Coincidentally, I've been invited to a birthday dinner at Neo-China next week. I'll report back.

          Jade Palace is truly awful. No question there. Mama Dips is okay, but not really worth the money, and probably a little worse than the several comparably priced restaurants in the area. It's a worthwhile experience once, and maybe more than once if you have kids, but for the same price I'd rather eat at Tyler's or Elmo's, and I would most definitely rather have a burger and fries at Town Hall Grill.

          Best,
          Sinophile/David A.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Sinophile

            Sinophile,

            I don't disagree with your views on those restos (as a matter of fact, I think they're spot-on, except in the case of Jujube); my point was that, given your comments on other restos, your review of Red Lotus does not support durhamois' characterization of Red Lotus as "mediocre"; in fact, given their aspirations ("unapolegetically Americanized Chinese food with a lighter more sophisticated touch than the typical take-away") and your professed lack of interest in that genre, your review of Red Lotus suggests very much the opposite conclusion.

            1. re: Sinophile

              Red Lotus looked good, but you can't eat atmosphere. Seems to me that most Chinese restaurants share the same awful recipies. Are there any good Chinese restaurants in the Triangle? It's getting so I miss Twin Dragon on Pico.

              1. re: Parsley

                The best authentic Chinese -- as opposed to fusiony upscale Chinese -- is Red Palace in Raleigh.

                1. re: Sinophile

                  Thank you Sinophile, I will try Red Palace in Raleigh the next time I'm there. Any dishes you can recommend at Red Palace? Something with a bit of heat, perhaps? Thanks.

                  1. re: Parsley

                    Everything has a bit of heat and more! The place is a genuine Szichuan restaurant. The danger is too much heat, not too little, and I say this as a guy who can take a good deal. We love the tea-smoked duck. My advice is to consult with the waitress, and don't allow yourself to be dissuaded from trying some of the more authentic dishes on the menu; as in so many Chinese restaurants, there is a weird and condescending tendency to steer non-Chinese clientelle toward less interesting fare.

                    1. re: Sinophile

                      Not so sure its "weird and condescending" so much as realistic. The modern consumer doesn't think twice about sending something back even if there is technically nothing wrong with the dish. That cuts into an already slim profit margin. If I'm serving dongpo pork (braised pork belly), I specifically tell the servers NOT to push it. If someone knows what they're getting into and loves the fatty goodness of pork belly then they'll be fine but if a customer thinks they're more adventurous than they really are, I've got to eat the margin on that dish once it gets sent back for being "too fatty".

                      I do the same with very esoteric wines in my descriptions. One actually reads "Yes, that's how it's supposed to taste" because the wine is quite peculiar but gloriously so. I don't want someone looking for "Chardonnay only different" to roll the dice with that wine. That's a wine geek wine pure and simple and I want to discourage anyone who's not truly game from ordering it so I don't have to take back a perfectly good bottle.

                      The market is all powerful. If Red Palace was inundated with non-Chinese customers that were were asking for the goods, they wouldn't steer them into safe choices. My guess is that they're learned the hard way that it just isn't worth it.

                      1. re: detlefchef

                        I'm sure that Detlef's economic theory has much validity, but I suspect that there is also a specifically Chinese cultural component. In any case, I'm surprised to hear that so many people are willing to return dishses. I consider it acceptable to return an improperly prepared dish (oversalty, burned, cold) but not a dish that is simply mediocre or that fails to catch my fancy. I can recall returning only one dish in my years of dining: an entree that was oversalted by a factor of maybe ten.

            2. Sinophile - what do you stock the fridge with at Grand Asia Market that you can't get at say, Asia Market in Durham, for example? I know your wife is from Taiwan and you guys no doubt make all sorts of things most of us wouldn't know about from eating at Chinese restaurants here. I'm just curious about what special things await me there. I do know something about Chinese food. I have yet to go to Grand Asia. There's something about Cary.... I think once I've made the trek once, I'll head back often. Also, what do you eat there that is particularly good?

              1. Grand Asia Market is a full-scale Asian supermarket. It's the size of a small Harris Teeter. The meat offerings are, shall we say, complete; you can buy everything from an entire pig's head to cow penis, if your tastes run in those directions. You can also buy live fish right out of the tank. We make the trip to buy obscure tofus, duck, pork belly, fresh fish, shaved meats (for hot pots), Chinese greens, and certain freshly made dim sum items (try the soup dumplings in the open-faced cabinet just across the aisle from the water fountain). We often go to Asia Market in Durham, mostly because we like an excuse to eat at Guglhopf, but in terms of selection it cannot compare.

                The cafe at Grand Asia, as I've said, is hit or miss, though at least potentially quite good. We usually order the crispy pan-fried noodle and one of several meat dishes on the menu.

                I recommend pairing a trip to Grand Asia with dinner at Udupi. Make sure to try the jaipuri paneer dosai. Bosphorus is another Cary favorite. Both are ideal neighborhood restaurants.

                Best of luck.
                David

                1 Reply
                1. re: Sinophile

                  The main thing I get at Grand Asia is the roast duck. While not spectacularly out of this world, these ducks are certainly quite respectable. Whenever I make Thai duck curry (kaeng ped something -- whatever it's called, the classic red curry duck with pinapple), I get the duck from Grand Asia. It's been awhile since I've made it, but if memory serves me correctly they'll even debone and/or cut up the duck for you.

                  Incidently, does anyone know if the Thai grocery in Burlington is still open? There was one essentially across the street from the outlet mall. Great little grocery. They'd even shred green papaya for you.

                2. It so happens that I was invited to join a friend for dinner at Red Lotus this week. Everything I said in my original post remains true -- the place serve "unapologetically Americanized Chinese food," etc. -- but I have to admit that the restaurant is pretty good by the standard of chicken-breast slinging Chinese restaurants. We had spring rolls, duck lo mien, mango chicken, and "Ghenghis Khan" beef. I had nothing to say against any of it. The duck lo mien was particularly good: there was tons of duck mixed in. Assuming that one can overlook the radical inauthenticity of everything on the menu, there is no reason not to take mild and unexcited pleasure in a meal at Red Lotus.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Sinophile

                    Has anyone else noticed that everything at Red Lotus tastes sweeter than it should? I went this weekend and had pan-fried gyoza, Chinese ribs, and crispy sesame beef, and every single thing tasted too sweet. Flavors weren't bad though.

                    1. re: mfg

                      Sounds like the same problem as Neo China. How the prices at Red Lotus relative to Neo China?

                  2. Had lunch at Red Lotus this week to celebrate the end of exams. The service was friendly and fast, but the meal was.......not good. No better way to describe it. Rather than too sweet, I found that everything my husband and I ordered was far too salty. And STICKY. In fairness, maybe it was that we were lunching late -- around 1:20 pm, but the food definitely felt and tasted as though it had been sitting around on warmers or under lamps for an hour or so. And the spring rolls were just soaking in grease. The bright spot in the meal was a truly delicious egg drop soup (I know, I know...but this is my guilty pleasure). It was light and flavorful and I would go back there just to eat it again. Otherwise, I'm not so impressed.

                    1. Red Lotus, it seems, suffers from inconsistency; my mother has been twice and says the food was much worse the second time.

                      I ate last night at Neo-China (someone else's birthday party, as mentioned above). I found the food simply wretched: everything indistinguishably coated in a heavy salty brown sauce. At its best, at least, Red Lotus is far better than Neo-China. Neo-China's one advantage is that it's cheaper; or at least you get a lot more food for the same amount of money.

                      1. i know what you're saying about neo-china... i tried it because someone had recommended it on one of the chowhound threads, but it had that same, terrible, viscous sauce you speak of. it's alright for disgusting american chinese, because at least they use some vegetables other than cabbage, waterchestnuts and bamboo shoots like most am-chine restaurants, but it doesn't make up for that generic sauce. they did have this shrimp roll appetizer that i liked, but it was just because i'd never seen before and it was made with a jumbo shrimp rather than 10 maggot-sized shrimp as most shrimp egg rolls have. but folks JUST SAY NO TO NEO-CHINA.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: MOOKIECOOKIE

                          I'm with you. Never have liked the place. It really doesn't matter what you order there - it all tastes more or less the same. They also love to use button mushrooms as a filler, which makes me particularly crazy, especially since I never saw a button mushroom in three years in China. I went once (with friends) and asked for a dish without mushrooms to see what would happen and ended up with a plateful of mini-corns. Hate those. Never saw those in China either.

                        2. I got Christmas takeout last night from Red Lotus, which was full of diners. My brother said his kung-pao chicken was "OK" (but ate it all nonetheless), but I thought my tofu in black bean sauce was quite good - there was a wide variety of not-overcooked vegetables in addition to the fried tofu, and the sauce was not too heavy or gluey. It was a surprisingly light-tasting meal for takeout Chinese. The menu is limited, but I was interested to see some Thai curries on there too - I wonder how those are? Anyway, for Chapel Hill Chinese, it was pretty good.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: dubedo

                            I ordered one of the Thai curries shortly after they had opened and it was pretty awful. The vegetables were poorly cooked and the sauce had a soapy flavor to it. Again, this was just after they had opened so they may have improved, but I don't think I'll be giving it another try.

                          2. We've been going to Ming Garden since they opened - at least once a week. I must say they're uneven. It's become a convenience, not a destination. Which is unfortunate bec the first dinners were so good, so light I thought, at last, a decent Chinese restaurant in town. But soon afterwards it devolved into brown everything. I don't know what happened -- kitchen turn-over or what? I know they're capable of doing better, but why not? Why is it so difficult to have a restaurant that serves reliable, good, well-prepared food? Consistency? Chapel Hill can support this - I'd pay the money. I was tempted to try Red Lotus tonite, but decided against bec I figured it wouldn't be any better or worse.

                            NJ2NC

                            1. I agree with the comments about Neo China, yet i did notice the neo china in cary is much much better than the one off of glenwood.. in my opinion anyway..

                              And to reply about Ming Garden, from what i hear is that it's been on the market for quite some time now, and that could explain why the food/taste has become inconsistent.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: SweetFever

                                Thanks, SweetFever. I didn't know Ming Garden was selling. Do you know why? I'm just curious, I liked the people. Although the food always not up to par, they're friendly. I think son of owners is David? If I had an endless well of money, I'd do whateer I could to get an authentic Chinese restaurant. Thanks again.

                                Jeanne

                              2. My roommate recommended Red Lotus, so I went and ate there with a friend about two nights ago. The atmosphere at the restaurant was very nice, and the waiters were very considerate but the food was so-so (though my friend liked it much more than I did).
                                Our menu:
                                hot and sour soup
                                red lotus curry chicken
                                fantasy duck
                                hot garlic chicken

                                Perhaps it was the food we ordered, but it just didn't taste like Chinese food to me? (I grew up in southern California, went to college in Boston, and lived for a while in the Bay Area, so maybe I'm just biased). The soup was decent, and I did like that you could substitute "fake chicken" for any of the meats, and that you could choose between white, brown, and fried rice for your meal. They also serve bubble tea (boba), which I haven't seen anywhere else around here.

                                I agree the portions were generous, but will try different dishes if we go next time. (Of the three entrees, I probably liked the garlic chicken the best. The Red Lotus curry was a coconut-based curry, and I think Penang does/did that better).

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: ennekube

                                  You can get bubble tea at Lime and Basil on Franklin Street.

                                2. I do agree that Neo-China has fallen off in recent years. We've been looking for decent consistent chinese food in the Chapel Hill / Durham area since.

                                  Overall, I agree with Sinophile's assessment of Red Lotus. I am quite fond of their soups, and most of the appetizers, the only one I found not to my taste was the bar-b-qued ribs. I do particularly like the spring rolls, the pot stickers, and the shrimp dumplings. I also like the mango chicken and curries, though Penang is clearly better for that side of things. The owner makes an excellent martini btw, if you like a real gin martini. The atmosphere and the bar give it an extra half-star for me.

                                  Hong Kong on Guess Road is still my choice for Dim Sum locally. I ate at China One recently in RTP, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either.

                                  1. We went to Red Lotus for the first time last night. We moved here from LA's San Gabriel Valley, so it was actually the first time we braved Chinese food in the Triangle. My husband used to like Americanized Chinese food, but I never really ate Chinese food of any kind until moving to Los Angeles. Anyway, the point of this post is not to compare LA to NC food.

                                    We braved Red Lotus because we walked by last week (on our way to the new Locopops location) and noticed that they have two menus, an Americanized one and Shanghai-style one. The second one seems to be all Shanghai-style specialties, some of which we recognized from previous meals. Note, we had to ask for this menu once we got to the restaurant.

                                    What we ordered:

                                    Five (layer?) pork with preserved vegetable
                                    Sauteed Eggplant (I don't know if this is the same dish on the "other" menu)
                                    and...
                                    Soup Dumplings, listed on the bill as "Shanghai bun"

                                    We don't know if the Xiaolongbao were on the menu as "Shanghai bun" or not, because we actually ordered them after I noticed a huge picture on the wall, and a tell-tale wicker steamer on a table where a Chinese-speaking couple were eating. I went up to the host and asked if they had them, 15 minutes later and ouila. They were quite good, although I'm not sure how they would fare compared to other ones (it's been a year).

                                    I'm a long-time Chowhound reader, but this was the first experience I had that made me want to post. I don't know how long they've been offering this second menu, but it's worth checking out if you're in the area. We're going to try a bunch more items, before recommending anything specific. But the soup dumplings were good!

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: cpo

                                      Oh. My. God. Xiaolongbao in Chapel Hill - am I dreaming? Really? I don't believe you! They have a Shanghai menu?? I may faint. Thank you so much for passing this info on.

                                      1. re: suse

                                        Let me know what you think! I'm *very* excited about going back.

                                        1. re: cpo

                                          So we finally went to the Red Lotus last night - I had been once before but hadn't realized they had a "Shanghai menu". The hostess was thrilled when I requested the Shanghai menu, but I don't really understand why one has to request it. It's not as if there are only dishes on it which no American would dare order. We ordered way too much food (off both menus) because we wanted to try a range of things. We tried the scallion pancakes which weren't bad, but not great, but they did come with an interesting curry dipping sauce. (kinda fusiony) We of course had to try the xiaolongbao (soup dumplings -listed on the regular menu as "shanghai bum (sic)". They were good little steamed dumplings, but not particularly soupy. If anybody reading this is ever in NYC's Chinatown, you should check out the xiaolongbao at Shanghai Cafe at 100 Mott St. (Right off Canal) - they're twice as big and half the price. The beef ho fun was fine - almost too beefy (this was our son's request - I know it's not a Shanghai specialty). Dan-dan noodles were good, but I always thought the peanut sauce was key - no peanut sauce. (Again, dan-dan are not a Shanghai thing, but rather Szechuan, I think) My two favorite dishes were the beef with hot peppers and the bokchoy with mushrooms - both off the Shanghai menu. I noticed several interesting seafood things on the Shanghai menu - the hub is allergic to shellfish, so we stuck to meat. While it is a bit pricey, I found that the quality of the ingredients were above average. There are a couple of Chinese restaurants in the area that might be a wee bit more "authentic" but I always feel like the quality of the meat and the oil used for frying is very low-end at these places. How else can they keep the cost so low? Red Lotus is definitely worth a try if you're in the area and in the mood for Chinese.

                                    2. I notice that you ordered Beef ho fun in a Shanghai restaurant. It's like going for a Disney show on Broad Way. The Shanghai dishes are very good. Ask a Chinese waiter next time if you'd like to try Shanghai cooking. :-)

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: josephm

                                        just had a fab dinner due to the great advice of asking the waitress and ordering from the Shanghai menu, we had shrimp in a green tea sauce (very subtle) and amazing fatty pork with bok choy. It was my meat fling and amazing.
                                        The waitress was so helpful, all 3 of us adored our meal; the one person who didn't ask for help regretted it;-)
                                        thank you so much cpo, Suse & Josephm!

                                      2. To resurrect a year-old post -

                                        We went to Red Lotus for the first time tonight, the eve of Chinese New Year. We had a reservation which was promptly honored although, unfortunately, half of our party bowed out at the last minute. We ordered off the Shanghai menu with two exceptions; the "Shanghai Bum" (sic), sometimes known as soup buns, and Dan Dan Noodles, more about which later.

                                        In addition to the soup buns, we began with a cold dish of Salted Duck. I don't have too much to say about it that the name doesn't say. It's cold, it's duck, and it's salted. It was perfectly pleasant, although I can't say I would order it again. Just a little too uninteresting. The soup buns weren't the best I've had. I'd hazard a guess that they were frozen and most of our order arrived with the dough ripped so that much of the soup had dribbled out already. They're fine if you're seriously jonesing for soup buns but I don't know if they merit a special trip.

                                        We also ordered Shredded Pork with Garlic Stems. A very simple dish but boy, was it good. The chef is really able to capture the wok smoke flavor. I'd order this one again in a second. The bokchoy with mushrooms, a suggestion of the waiter, was less of a winner. It was okay, but nothing special.

                                        Now before I get jumped on for the Dan Dan Noodles, let me explain. Normally I know better than to order a Sichuan dish in a Shanghai restaurant but I had Suse's problem. Namely, the six-year-old wanted noodles and there wasn't a single noodle dish on the Shanghai menu. The waiter's only suggestion was lo mein. Uh, no thanks. However, even given all that, I only have two words for the dish my daughter was served. Overcooked linguine. Seriously, it was linguine, not any kind of Asian noodle, and it was cooked to death. The meat on top was chicken, not pork, and there wasn't much flavor beyond salt and oil. It was dreadful. Worse than neighborhood takeout. And the waiter never bothered to put in the order. We had to remind him twice about the noodles and our kid spent most of the evening watching us eat and occasionally asking where her dinner was.

                                        Inadvertently, the waiter laid out the situation for us. Effectively, Red Lotus is two restaurants under one roof. They have two chefs, one Shanghai and one Americanized. A different person cooks your meal depending on how you order. It still does not excuse the sorry food my daughter received, though. Even the waiter seemed to have contempt for the Americanized dishes (his words) and the people who order them. The customers also seemed to fall into two camps. The Chinese families ordering traditional New Year's meals and the Americans who wanted only Sesame Chicken, fried rice, and "lettuce wraps like you get at PF Chang's." The last comment was overheard from the table behind me.

                                        Very long story short - order only from the Shanghai menu. Unfortunately, we will not be adding Red Lotus to our regular rotation because we felt the prices were a bit high for what we received. We'll do it again, but not regularly.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: rockycat

                                          Can't wait for the day when we have a solid Chinese restaurant in these parts. Solid. I haven't been back to Red Lotus since my post. Too blingy $$$ for what it is. After many years of not going, we recently revisited the HongKong on Guess Rd. for Dimsum and ordered the beef Fun (dry) off the menu in addition to the getting the food off the cart. It was yummy. I thought their lobogau (turnip cake) was excellent and the noodles were delish. We went around 1:30 - no wait, but maybe already a wee bit picked over. Still, we enjoyed it and it didn't break the bank. The immediate gratification factor of having dim sum is great when you have kid(s) in tow.

                                          1. re: rockycat

                                            I hadn't been to Red Lotus in probably 18 months, so I was excited to see the Shanghai menu. We took our oldest daughter there for her 12th birthday last Saturday. We ordered mostly off the Shanghai menu, except for the vegetarian potstickers, which our daughter really wanted. I had originally read the (cold) Lotus root stuffed with sticky rice as the lotus leaf wrapped sticky rice that is a dim sum staple and a favorite both of mine and my daughter's. I figured out my error but ordered it anyway. It was interesting, but didn't do much for my palate. For main courses, we ordered clay pot chestnut chicken, chili pepper beef, and braised pea shoots for greens. The beef was excellent, and the greens were a definite highlight. I was especially interested in the chicken, because it's a dish I have made myself. The sauce was better than mine, quite delicious, but the chicken seemed dry, as if it had been reheated in the microwave.

                                            Judging from Greg Cox's glowing review, I might have been able to order better. It was definitely more expensive than other Chinese offerings. I'll give it another chance, but it won't be a regular event for us because of the price.