When I found out that my beloved Lotus Café had been replaced by a Filipino restaurant, I was filled with mixed feelings. I am sad that Lotus went out of business, and am bemoaning the loss of the only Indonesian cuisine in town. However, ever since my trip to the Philippines in December, I have been seriously missing the food. Yesterday I made the trek over to Alma School & Chandler Blvd to check out Asian Cusina for lunch and satisfy some serious lumpia and pancit cravings. When I got there, I found out that the fresh lumpia was unavailable. Drats! I ordered shanghai style lumpia instead (a dozen for $6). Crispy pata (deep fried pork feet) was also unavailable. Im not sure if these were only temporarily unavailable (for lunch, the whole day, or ???), but return visits should clarify this.
The Lotus interior (goldenrod painted walls, dark trim, lanterns hanging from the ceiling) remains, but the ambiance is drastically different. Instead of an elegant, sit-down dining experience, expect a quick, cafeteria-like setting, complete with plastic trays, Styrofoam plates and plastic silverware. The top half of the back wall has been cut out, and the food is served a la carte out of a glass display case. As you go up to the counter, you pick out what you want, the server scoops it onto a plate, and then you pay at the register. The new set up makes for quick and speedy service at an incredible value, and is very conducive for take out orders (a good option for those lazy night dinners).
The food at Asian Cusina is inexpensive, as can be expected for Filipino fast food. They charge $3.99 for two a la carte items and rice. I chose two of my favorite standy-bys - squid adobo and pancit (rice noodle stir fry). The squid was tender and juicy, and each bite brought a fond smile to my lips. The pancit was good, if not a bit greasy, but satisfying nonetheless. The shanghai style lumpia arrived piping hot, straight from the deep fryer, about 10 minutes after we sat down. My dining partner had the squid adobo and the menudo with rice, and, judging by the lip smacking and breakneck speed with which he inhaled his meal, he was satisfied with his selection. He also ordered the maja blanca for dessert. I had a small bite, and relished its custardy coconuty cornstarchy goodness.
While eating, I happened to notice the gal at the table next to mine drinking a fresh cantaloupe drink. My eyes lit up when I saw it, and she noticed and asked if I had ever had it before. Indeed I had, and remembering its nectary sweet goodness, I couldnt resist the overwhelming urge to order one for myself. But alas, the lady behind the counter informed me that they had run out, and that the next batch wasnt ready yet. Yet another reason to make a return visit.
Despite its horrible location, it looks like Asian Cusina will have no trouble staying in business. Judging by the bustling lunch crowd and the many items that they had run out of, there seems to be plentiful demand for Filipino fare on this side of town. I cant wait to go back for fresh lumpia, crispy pata, and cantaloupe drink. *swoon*