After my husband ate at Lotus last weekend with some friends and returned with a rave review of the ribs, my curiousity was piqued. He gladly returned this PM and we had a very nice meal.
Started out with the crab roll. Next up was the tamarind glazed pork loin for him, crab ravioli for me, and a side of asparagus tempura. The crab roll was an interesting looking appetizer. Two golf ball size rounds of crabmeat is engulfed by noodles and deep fried. What you get looks like something medusa-like because of the crisped noodles that are sticking out all over the place. It was a good start. I enjoyed the crunch of the noodles balanced with the savory mousse-like crab filling. The crab "rolls" were served atop shredded raw red cabbage with a dipping sauce of chile lime aioli according to the menu and a small bowl of pickled cucumber with chilies. My husband guessed that there was white pepper in the concoction which highlighted the natural sweetness of the crabmeat and lent a subtle heat as well. This app was $6.
Following were our entrees. Lotus's menu is divided into what they say are small and large plates. Some of the large plates are effectively entrees which is designated on the menu (great service point in my book). But when our large plates of the pork loin and the crab ravioli arrived, my husband's pork dish was easily one in which the side of jasmine rice, asparagus tempura, and a few bites of my ravioli would make a meal. My crab ravioli was not a large plate but a huge plate and easily entree size in itself.
I concentrated on my ravioli and let him focus on his pork. The ravioli is described on the menu as such: Roma tomatoes, fresh crab meat with black-truffle porcini ravioli. The only reason I got this dish is that it sounded not right to me. I was curious about the pairing of crab meat with black truffles as well as with the porcini. My first assumption was that these earthy ingredients would surely overwhelm the more delicate sea creature but I fought that assumption, telling myself to be more open-minded about the pairing. The dish itself must have held 10-12 medium sized plump pillows of the mushroom/ truffle-enhanced ravioli with the tomato concasse crabmeat mixture on top. It was a huge pasta dish, very filling. I kept wishing I had salt though. Often times with fusion, it's just wrong. But when it's right, I find it is just transcendental, the whole being more than the sum of its parts. This dish did not offer such greatness but it was a good dish. I still think it needed a little salt. But at $11, it was an incredible value, especially given the main ingredients.
Asparagus tempura ($6) was nice and light. It wasn't greasy and had a bit of the salt that I seemed to be craving from my entree. It came with a honey mustard dipping sauce and my only wish for the sauce was that it had some heat to it. Like Chinese mustard heat. That really would've given it a kick. But without that, it was fine. Regarding service, our server had forgotten to order this side. After inquiring about it, it came to the table with apologies and was taken off the bill. Our server and the owner, Eric, were both very friendly and attentive. Eric was quite personable and spoke to us about some of his highs and lows with the place so far.
For dessert, my husband wanted to split a creme brulee. I tend to cringe when this dessert is ordered. Not because I don't like it but because I will hate the dessert if the pastry person is too heavy handed with the propane torch and a carbon aftertaste is left or the sugar isn't caramelized enough and doesn't form a hard shell over the cream. It's not a good way for me to end a meal if it isn't done correctly so I don't chance it anymore. Nevertheless, since he'd had it before he knew it would meet all the tests. It was chock-full of vanilla bean seeds, was just the right temperature, was nicely caramelized, and had that great shattering sugar shell which I just love. Great creme brulee.
All in all, 1 app, 2 "entrees", 1 bowl of jasmine rice, and a dessert and 2 drinks came to $48. Though I love House (in North Beach) with all my heart, this fusion restaurant was even more wallet friendly. I would say that it's not on the level at House but was a very nice meal, one I'd go back for. Next time though, we'll be having the pork ribs.
The feeling that I got about this restaurant is that someone really cares and is trying to please you. Sadly, I find that to be more and more rare. It was a very comfortable place to be in and welcoming. Much of that had to do with the friendliness of the owner. With the kitchen, the executive chef is an alum of Hawthorne Lane and another is from Chaya. I think that the fusion envelope could be pushed a little bit more and that it could've been more creative. However, the owner indicated that the menu will be changing soon to make it tighter and it's good that everyone seems to be conscious of providing a quality experience, from start to finish.