found some good chinese chow near wayne!
just paid my third visit to new lee garden chinese restaurant, 111 e swedesdord rd, wayne pa 19087 - in the gateway shopping center. it's tucked away, around the corner waaaaaay down at the end by staples - opposite side from a taste of india. BYO.
i am really really enjoying the vegetable spring rolls and the szechuan bean curd (fried tofu, extra-extra spicy, added some soy and duck sauce)! not "gel-y" like your standard-issue chinese restaurant. in my opinion this is quite high-quality stuff! there is a lunch buffet, have not tried this yet but may not as there isn't a terribly large vegetarian selection on it. ambiance lacks a bit inside, but for an initial reaction i think the food's great.
...unlike lotus inn on the other block, which i would avoid like the plague.
I know where you refer - I went to the same place years ago, under a DIFFERENT name (and probably ownership and chef), and never returned since I found the Chinese food there very oily, greasy.
Not all places offer vegetarian spring rolls (you'd think this would be a staple alternative, but no, many places think everyone eats pork or wants some form of meat in their egg/spring rolls). The szechuan tofu dish sounded like something I'd enjoy. I'd enjoy a Chinese buffet that offered primarily selections that were vegetarian, a little chicken or fish, but most of the Chinese places I have been to, including the Chinese restaurant in the Chesterbrook Shopping Center, are heavily meat weighted with unappealing vegetarian side dishes. (Sometimes when I am at A Taste of India, Gateway to India, or Royal India, I look forward to the freshly made exotic salads with the flavorful dressings/raita that can be added to them. Witness the recent plain chick pea salad with tiny bits of cilantro and mint and chili powder offered at A Taste of India. These fresh side dishes make eating vegetarian very appealing, vs. the sometimes dull looking meat dishes appearing at some Chinese restaurants offering a lunch buffet.)
I can't believe there is no enterprising person (myself not included) that couldn't come up with such a Chinese vegetarian place. Offer a buffet for $8 to 10 flat rate including everything. Most places charge under $7 for a meat buffet. I'd think it would attract customers if the quality was good, and the selection large. Several vegetarian soups, various vegetarian dishes. Come to think of it, I am starting to describe SuTao Cafe in Malvern. But if such a place were closer to Gateway or Wayne, it would draw more traffic. (Think of those franchised places in Wayne that draw traffic due to their size and selection.)
Lotus Inn looks very nice from the outside. What didn't you like about the food?
i agree about the lack of a chinese vegetarian buffet. there is also one in the chesterbrook shopping center, but i found it also meat-heavy and disappointing. i forget what the name of this place was called. i can't believe i actually left a buffet lunch still hungry, though!!
lotus inn does look very nice from the outside, and the inside decor is definitely the nicest of the three chinese places in the area i know of. it is a chinese / japanese combo restaurant. basically, i couldn't find a single appealing thing on the chinese menu, which was a shame becuase i was really craving chinese food on the particular day i went. i really wanted general tso's bean curd. i do NOT like imitation meat served by so many chinese places - as a lifelong vegetarian, i don't miss the lack of meat thus don't crave the 'fake meat' products. anyway, they had a fake-chicken general tso's, but i'd also noticed other bean curd dishes on the menu so, as i usually assume with asian restaurants, i figured they could accommodate a general tso's bean curd request. probably not the most difficult special request. they absolutely wouldn't honor it. they pointed to the fake-chicken general tso's and i told them i did not want that. i ended up ordering miso soup and cucumber rolls from the japanese menu. i didn't like either. would much rather go to hibachi or shangri la next door for japanese specialties. the rolls didn't have sesame seeds and the ginger didn't taste as fresh as i'm used to. the miso's seaweed was not good and the tofu was slimy.
getting refills on drinks proved tough. the table next to us (and my next to i mean practically on top of us) was having a hard time getting a waiter to come by and take their order, and we also noticed that their and in general i was not impressed enough with the place for the amount of money we spent. the ambiance at the aforementioned japanese places is MUCH nicer than lotus, and as far as chinese goes, their menu just sucked and they're the first place i've ever encountered who will not accommodate special requests.
anyway, i was turned on to new lee by a fellow foodie coworker and as far chinese in wayne goes, it surpasses the others by a longshot! check it out if you have a chance.
just returned from a lunch at ATOI. aside from the saturday + sunday buffets there (which are HUGE) friday is my favorite weekday to go. SO much selection, and i swear they kick the spices up a notch on fridays!!
rabidog - thanks for the detailed run down on your experience at Lotus Inn. I'd think doing a tso's bean curd wouldn't be that hard, but maybe they do not vary from their menu.
I like seitan, but I can appreciate you wanting "real" vegetarian food. Chinese cuisine has supposedly perfected the seitan thing. I enjoyed the seitan dishes I had at Harmony restaurant in Chinatown in Philadelphia years ago. Wonder if you have ever tried SuTao Cafe in Malvern (it's in the same plaza as Himalayan Restaurant). It's very hard core vegetarian, and have some dishes made with seitan. I've never eaten there, but have heard good things about the place.
When you have been to ATOI on Friday, has it been after the lunch time rush? The place is normally packed during that time. Some restaurants run out of food, or don't fill up empty trays in the buffet after peak times ( I had run into this at Royal India a few times, and at GTI and ATOI some trays stayed empty for more than ten minutes. )
I wouldn't mind going to ATOI on Friday after the lunch crowd starts emptying out.
If you have been to Himalayan on the weekend and tasted its sambar, would be interested to know if ATOI's sambar is as spicy and as good. For the time being, their (H's) version of sambar is my base I use for comparison (before it was the version served at Taj Mahal in Chesterbrook, when they had their cooks doing the south Indian thing - their Mulligawtawney was just as hot as the sambar - have never tasted anything like that since, including at ATOI, even during the years when they turned the heat up with that soup.)
What else does ATOI have in its buffet on the weekend as compared with a Wednesday and Thursday variety, other than dosas and perhaps sambar?
I thought you, or some other poster was going to pay a visit to Bawarchi, the restaurant that has replaced Taj Mahal. Will look forward to those reviews.