Date dined: 3/16/12
A late dinner at Lotus Garden proved to be a nice refuge from the rain tonight. Fried calamari was served on a bed of lettuce - the breading was somewhat thick, with a mild salt and pepper flavor, and was served with a thick sweet-chili dipping sauce. It was decent. Banh khot were better - these still aren't on the main menu (I don't know why!) but they were the best thing we tried. I don't think they stood up to the banh khot I had recently at Vietnam House in the Tenderloin (see: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/836475) but they were still satisfying - mini crepes with a crispy exterior, and a piping hot, creamy coconut interior, all topped with shrimp. The banh khot were served with lettuce for wrapping, along with mint, cilantro, shredded carrot/daikon mixture, and a sweet dipping sauce.
Bun (vermicelli) with Imperial rolls and pork were fine, but not that special. I thought the noodles were a bit too watery, and aside from the pork and fried spring roll, there wasn't much else besides lettuce. I'm used to versions with more peanuts and more garnishes (like bean sprouts and herbs). Catfish in a claypot was also just okay - the version I had in January at Yummy Yummy (which I mistakenly listed as Yum Yum here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/829296 ) was much better. The catfish at Lotus Garden was off the bone, and in medium sized chunks, and while the sauce was sweet and comforting, it wasn't really bubbling, and therefore hadn't quite attained the thick, caramelized texture that I really love in this dish.
Hot jasmine tea was served in a large teapot, and this was very good. It's nice to have this place in the neighborhood, and I'm still looking forward to trying their lunch-time banh mi sandwiches.
3216 Mission Street
La Lengua Chronicles: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/838611