7 hounds met for our now monthly Viet Chowdown, this time at White Lotus, a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant in downtown San Jose. Below is the list of dishes we ordered:
#1 Summer Roll (Bi Cuon) - this is the one with ground toasted rice
#2 Spring Roll (Bo Bia) - this is the one with peanut dipping sauce
#3 Imperial Roll (fried cha gio)
#39 Lotus Rootlet Salad
#21 Pumpkin Soup (sliced pumpkin, tofu, and mushroom)
#70 Clear Vermicelli Stir-Fried Combo
#65 Coco String Bean (rice noodles with coconut milk, shredded tofu, steamed bean sprouts)
#45 Spicy Garlic Eggplant
#46 Stuffed Tomatoes
#53 Fried "Fish" with Ginger Sauce
Total including tax & tip was $16 per person.
Overall I thought most dishes were good, others were okay, and one downside for me was that some things were too sweet, like the dressing for the lotus rootlet salad, and the peanut dipping sauce (too sweet seems to be a common complaint of mine, so it could just be me).
The 3 rolls, lotus rootlet salad, and the eggplant were the only repeats for me, and all were as good as my last visits. My favorite roll is still the Bi Cuon with its fragrant toasted rice, though I also liked the fried rolls - nicely crispy and a light clean flavor.
My favorite dish was the soup with small chunks of pumpkin, tiny cubes of tofu, and thin slices of black mushroom. Very unique combination in a clear broth that wasn't bland at all. We noted the taste might be because the broth was made from mushrooms. I loved the addition of the herb you usually get in Vietnamese sweet & sour soup. I looked it up and it's called Ngo Om or Rau Om (english name is Rice Paddy Herb); I attached picture below.
The "Coco String Bean" noodle dish is something I've never had or seen before, and it's unique and tasty, but the coconut milk seemed to clash with the salty vegetarian "fish sauce". I might have been confused by the time I served myself this dish so maybe the vegetarian fish sauce wasn't for adding to this dish?
My least favorite dish was the fried fish, but only because I'm not a big fan of TVP/tofu-based faux meat dishes, but I think this dish was well executed (the seaweed was crisp, and the faux fish had a good texture (slightly crispy shell, meaty inside).
I hope others will chime in, and Carb Lover will be along soon to post photos. Thanks to everyone who came for the great company, to David for sneaking in a bottle of my beloved fish sauce, and to Karen for the treat bags of chocolate-caramel matzo!
80 N. Market St.
San Jose, CA