I was going to wait and post a review of Lotus after I returned two or three more times to try more of their dishes, but I am so giddy with excitement at finding a new restaurant to add to my list of regular haunts, that I felt compelled to share my new find!!! Lotus Asian Café and Grill is the only Indonesian restaurant in the entire Valley, and were lucky enough to have it in Chandler (just a block down the street from other chowhound hideaways, like Cyclo, Angel Sweet and Chino Bandido).
First of all, Lotus is a bit hard to find, tucked away in a non-descript shopping center behind a Wells Fargo on the northwest corner of Alma School and Chandler Blvd. You definitely would never know this place was there unless you specifically set out to find it (as evidenced by my driving by the place twice daily for over a year now). It is very cozy, to say the least, as there are only about 5-6 tables in a very clean, utilitarian-like setting. However, when I visited (on a Thursday night) only a couple of the tables were taken. Also, the service was very friendly and attentive the waitress checked on us often, and refilled our drinks several times without request.
I must admit, I felt like a kid in a candy store as I sat looking at the menu --- with so many delicious, succulent-sounding dishes, how was I to choose only one???? At this point, I knew I would have to come back several times to get a true sampling of the menu
I tried Ayam Balado & Lalapan, described as crispy half chicken with tomato lemongrass chilli sauce, served with fresh veggies. The lemongrass chicken was brought to the table on a sizzling platter, a feast for the eyes, very bright and fiery and mouth-wateringly aromatic. The chilli sauce was mouth warming, but not overwhelmingly hot (side note: you can specify the spiciness of every dish you order, ranging from none to very spicy). The veggies included broccoli, green beans, and chayote squash that were very fresh and crisp, and unseasoned, a nice complement to the spicy (and perhaps a little greasy) lemongrass chicken. This dish was very good; however, it just isnt as robust and flavorful as Nhats lemongrass chicken, in Tempe (a dish for which I have yet to find an adequate challenger). My dining partners ordered Kari (chicken and veggies in yellow curry) and Nasi Uduk Komplit, a combination platter that included fried chicken and sauteed curry shrimp. One licked his plate clean before I could even blink my eyes, but I was fortunate enough to try the curry which was absolutely delicious, very creamy and boasting with flavor. The latter is a dish I would order again and again.
The menu abounds with dishes that I am dying to try, but rather than try to list them all here Ill just direct you to the takeout menu linked below. Their Rendang Daging (red beef curry) and Gulai Kambing (spicy lamb curry) have gotten rave reviews by an article in the New Times posted on the wall. My recommendation is to take a large group so you can sample several of their starters (corn veggie fritters anyone? Or how about lumpia Indonesian spring rolls?), perhaps a soup entree, a couple different satays, a rice or noodle dish, and several of their meat or veggie platters (And while youre at it, invite me, would ya?). If youre there by yourself, never fear, they offer combination platters that come with two different entrees and rice and veggies. They also have a plethora of drinks and desserts I ordered Es Juruk Nipis, freshly squeezed limeade, which was refreshing and a pleasant contrast to the spices in my meal.
Also, as if they didnt already have enough options, Lotus also offers Rijsttafels (Indonesian Rice Table) with advanced notice and a two-person minimum order (at 39.95 for two, you get to try twelve dishes, including soup and dessert).
So now when I dont feel like battling the crowds at Cyclo or trekking all the way to Hodoris Korean or Lees Sandwiches, I have a wonderful alternative in Lotus.
Now is anyone interested in feasting on a Rijsttafel??