4970 Summer Avenue
Ok, I'll just say it. You can't take your kids to Lotus. Not unless they are at least 13. It's just too slow.
And frankly, I'm not sure it is worth the wait.
Now, I am sure someone out there is a big Lotus fan and is not going to like hearing this, but I'm sorry, it's true.
Warren and I went to Lotus not too long ago--maybe a year or so--and we didn't have the kids. I used to go all the time in college, so I talked him into going. Well we sat down and no one ever took our order or said hello or anything. In fact, we never even saw anyone working there. So we left.
My good friend, who I used to actually go there with in college, recently convinced me to give it another try. She told me about the gigantic and delicious Banh Xeo and the shrimp in lobster sauce. In fact, she said if I didn't order them both we couldn't be friends anymore.
So on Friday night, after taking the monkeys to the econo hour over at the Ajay Cinema, we went back to Lotus. (Now, I know going at 7:00 on Friday is probably the worst time ever to go, but we did.) The parking lot was absolutely packed, but inside there were two or three open tables. (There are only about ten tables in the whole restaurant.) It took about 5 minutes, but a man did finally acknowledge us and point us to a table. We sat down and about ten minutes later a young man came over to give us a menu and take our drink orders.
That's already 15 minutes, people.
The only reason we didn't leave was because the kids had eaten before the movie and were not going to starve if we had to wait and the aforementioned friendship threat. I looked around at the other tables to see if any of them had food and to gauge whether we stood a chance. The problem seemed to be a table of nine. They were obviously celebrating something and had done a LOT of ordering. There was also a table of six. I could only hope that they weren't as hungry as the table of nine.
My friend was busy texting me to be patient, to wait, it was worth it, etc. She said the man and his wife do all of the cooking and everything is made to order. Ok, whatever, I'm fine with that. I pulled out my notebooks and pens and let the monkeys draw so that they wouldn't get too rowdy.
Lotus is definitely too small for any sort of rowdiness. Another reason I'd advise never bringing kids.
When we finally ordered we went with hot and sour soup, two spring rolls, the Banh Xeo, shrimp in lobster sauce, and pork fried rice. Jiro really wanted chicken wings, but they didn't have any. Satchel wanted beef curry, but I was worried that we'd already ordered too much. Surprisingly, neither one of them wanted any egg drop soup.
There was lots of drawing and talking and we did a pretty good job of being patient. Everything that came out of the kitchen went to the nine top. They seriously ordered a TON of food.
Our spring rolls and soup came out after ten or fifteen minutes, so we had a little to eat. "We" being me and Warren. The kids were not interested in either. I thought the soup was just okay. (It didn't come with "crunchies" which was a shame, since they would have appeased the monkeys.) The spring rolls were awesome. Soon after we finished our appetizers the kids got bored with drawing, so we let them play games on our iPhones. Normally I would not let them play games at dinner, but we were desperate. The table of six next to us had requested a plate of white rice for one of the dudes to eat, so I knew we still had a loooooooong wait!
Our Banh Xeo came out after awhile and it was okay. Described as an Asian Taco, it was a fried shell with bean sprouts and grilled shrimp inside. Maybe some cabbage? It was pretty good. My friend said to order it with lettuce and hot sauce but we never quite figured out what to do with either. Again the kids had no interest in eating any of this.
After the Banh Xeo was gone we had about an hour's stretch with nothing. NOTHING. Satchel was getting really hungry and whiney, my iPhone battery was dying, and things were generally not looking good. Again, had it not been for the friendship threat, I would have left.
Finally, I took a cue from our neighbors and asked the man for some white rice. I told him the kids were getting too hungry. Then, like magic, our fried rice came out, white rice came out, and the shrimp in lobster sauce came out. (I should have complained sooner!)
Now, let's talk about the pork fried rice. I am not very picky about pork fried rice, but I have to say that this one was awful. First off, it smelled like it was rancid. I took one bite and that was it. (The giant carrot chunks did not help the taste.) I kept my disdain to myself, lest I put the kids off. (I don't think it was really rancid, but I do think that the "pork" may have been pig parts I don't usually eat.) Warren tasted it and said it was fine. Satchel was open to eating some, but Jiro refused. Poor Jiro only ended up with a plate of white rice after behaving for almost two hours!
The shrimp in lobster sauce was thankfully pretty good. Satchel agreed to eat one shrimp, but the sauce was too daunting and it stayed on his plate. We ran out of white rice before we could put a dent in the shrimp, so we just decided to take it home. And we had a shit ton of pork fried rice to take home too. (Warren insisted he would eat it. He doesn't like to waste.)
The man came by and I asked for some boxes and the check. He brought both over and I handed him my credit card. He showed me the bill and asked me to add the tip in first, which I have never ever been asked to do, but I did. Then he walked over to the register where I assumed he'd ring it up. Well, just then the table of nine got up and apparently they all had separate checks. Instead of ringing mine real quick, he rang up every single one of them.
So we sat there another 20 minutes while this went on. Did I mention it was 9:15 and I was supposed to meet someone at 8:30? Or that we got to the restaurant at 7:00?
Luckily Warren's battery had more juice than mine and he downloaded a really fun marble run game for the kids to play.
Once the nine people left, the man went back to waiting tables. I walked over to ask about my check and then he remembered my card. He rang it up ($34 + $6 tip) and then handed me the slip to sign. The slip had a place for a tip, which I thought was strange since he had asked me to add it in before. I just drew a line and totaled it out, signed my name, and we were off. Finally!
As we drove home, we listed all of the other Vietnamese places we know that were faster, cheaper, and had better food.
The family that owns Lotus is really nice and I do appreciate that they make everything themselves. Obviously they have a loyal following or they wouldn't have made it all of these years. I wish them the best. Team Oster will be dining elsewhere.