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Oct 27, 2009 08:53 AM

Red Lotus - Chapel Hill, NC - LOVE

I never hear very much about this place and I'm kind of surprised, because I think it's the best Chinese on this side of the Triangle (only bested by Super Wok and I don't feel like driving there all the time).

Anything else I should try there?

I usually order from their Shanghai Menu - my staple is the shredded beef with chili sauce. Also love the cold sesame noodles and the szechuan potato noodles. I find their American menu to be a cut above the other local places as well. Their beef with chili pepper is delicious but a bit too hot even for me, and I really love hot/spicy food. I'd order it again though and double the rice :-P

(edited to add that I don't work there...I just read a thread of mediocre reviews - I agree with the Chowhounders, do try to stick to the Shanghai menu, or the specials board. I too found the Dan Dan Noodles to be abhorrent).

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  1. Sorry to disagree, but I went there for the first time about 2 weeks ago. I was pretty unimpressed. The dumplings were flaccid and bland (as was the dipping sauce), the lo mein (I had my 3 year old with me, so was trying to order things that were share-worthy with her) was nothing special, and my Chairman Tao's chicken was way, way over-cooked and tough, without any special flavor. I really wanted to like this place, and will give it another shot with the Shanghai menu. But nothing that we ordered would draw me back - in fact just the opposite. But I do have to say the place got pretty busy, so obviously a fair number of people agree with you.

    2 Replies
    1. re: LulusMom

      i was also disappointed my most recent visit last week when i got takeout. the food was surprisingly greasy.

      1. re: LulusMom

        Yeah definitely try the Shanghai menu! I've never had any of the dishes you mentioned but I did really hate the Dan Dan Noodles, so maybe it's hit or miss?

      2. What about the place on the corner of University and Garrett in Durham?

        1 Reply
        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

          I like that place as well - China Palace - but as far as the authentic menus go (China Palace has one as well - "Palace Magic" menu" I like Red Lotus' menu a bit more. Haven't tried as much at China Palace, though. Not too crazy about their Americanized food, but it definitely beats both Eastern Lights and especially Neo China, which seems to want to put squash in everything.

        2. Barbara, I totally agree with you. Red Lotus is our favorite place for Chinese food. We like Super Wok, but overall we like Red Lotus even more--and we don' have to drive so far. The flavors just call to us. We have only ordered off their Shanghai menu. Some dishes that we like are sauteed pork with garlic stems; ma po tofu (maybe not Super Woks, but extremely flavorful); braised Chinese eggplant, and QianJiang style shredded pork. We have had several fish dishes which were good, but, be warned, the taste is mild so they fight with the pork dishes.

          Yes, the Shanghai dishes are not inexpensive, but we usually get two, eat half, of each and have a dinner at home with the leftovers so it spreads out the cost.

          I'm looking forward to trying shitake mushrooms with chicken in clay pot and stewed pork cubes with tofu skin. Yum!

          8 Replies
          1. re: Panski

            I wind up there mostly for lunch (the few times I've been). Can you order off the Shanghai at lunch time?

            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

              I will put in a plug for China Palace. My wife and I love it as long as you stick to the Chinese Menu. The atmosphere is awful, but that is pretty standard . i will have to give Lotus a try............

              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                Yes, you can order off the "Chinese" menu at lunch. But, you have to ask for the menu. We have been there many, many times, sometimes twice in one week, and we still have to ask for it. We went again today (all this discussion made us hungry) and had the sauteed beef with hot peppers (very hot, but tasty once I got acclimated) and shitake mushroom with chicken in a clay pot. My husband wasn't as fond of the chicken as I was--it is chopped with bones intact, but I like that. The star anise flavor (not my favorite flavor) was very subtle and the sauce was really good on our rice. Now, how soon can I justify another visit?

                1. re: Panski

                  Okay because the last time I was there, it was on the table (I'm assuming this is the menu with the pork knuckle seen here ( I just wasn't sure if I could order from it..of course the special dishes I wouldn't be able to do for lunch necessarily.

                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                    Burgeoningfoodie, Here is a link to the Chinese menu--

                    We still haven't done any of the special dishes, but we've eaten 15 dishes so far and have a lot of favorites.

                    1. re: Panski

                      Right thats the same one I put in my post above yours.

                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                        I love this place but only eat from the Shanghai menu (2 chefs)

                        get Jennie as your waitress ask her for suggestions. We had Dong po pork: full of fat, I've had the lichen fish, delicious, the shanghai vegetables with gluten, all great. We always come back here and love the food.
                        But we never eat from the American menu.

                        1. re: Rory

                          We had dinner here last Saturday. For starters we had th hot and sour soup and the shrimp and chives dumpling special. The hot and sour soup was quite good, really spicy and not overly thickened like at a lot of our places. The dumplings were really special. The chives had a mustardy bite to them and the texture of the wrappers seemed handmade, really silky. For our entrees we had shredded beef with chili sauce and the eggplant and shredded pork with eggplant and basil. The beef dish was spicy and beef which complemented the slightly sweet pork/eggplant dish.

                          My only mild complaints are I wish the Shanghai menu had more veg choices and the ambiance of this place is quite plain (but then so is Superwok's). Prices are a little higher than other places but given the food quality and portions it's easily justified. Everything equal I'd pick Superwok but given Red Lotus is 10 minutes away while Superwok is 30 minute away, Red Lotus gets the nod. Now I need to try China Palace's Chinese menu...

            2. We went to Red Lotus yesterday, and for the second time I ordered off the Shanghai menu and it was *so much* better than the food ordered off the regular menu. AND, for those of you who also don't eat pork, they make their MaPo Tofu with ground chicken instead of pork, and it is very tasty. I've also had the spicy fried fish with bay leaf from this menu, and it was really good.

              2 Replies
              1. re: LulusMom

                I like the cold salted duck and the tofu skin dishes.

                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                  I assume these were on the Shanghai menu? I had narrowed it down to the mapo tofu, the fish I'd had before, and fish with black bean sauce and the waiter said they were 3 of his favorites. Definitely going to make it back there soon for dinner. Will look for both those dishes - they sound good.