Before you wrinkle your noses in digust - oh, there couldn't possibly be good food at a place that's more known as a club, and a trendy one at that... you'd be surprised.
I'm not even sure how I came up with the idea to go here. I think I was in a mood to go clubbing, and since you can get in to the club and skip the velvet rope if you eat here, dinner reservations were thusly made.
So two friends and I pulled up at 9PM on Friday night. The valet lot, fyi, costs $10, but you can get in the VIP lot for $20. What's the difference? The $10 lot is located some blocks away, while the VIP lot is the one next to the restaurant. Is it worth the extra $10? I don't know. You certainly won't have to wait as long for your car, but if you plan on leaving before the club closes, it probably doesn't really matter, the 8-minute extra wait.
Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from the food at all. I've been to restaurant-clubs before - Tao in NY and Buddha Bar in Paris, both long long ago, and was never impressed by the food; it was all about the scene, and being seen, and being in the hip place du jour.
Anyway. Back to White Lotus. Yes, there is a list. And when you have a reservation, your name is on it and you feel all special. IDs are checked at the door, and the dining part of the place is to the left - there's an indoor seating area, an outdoor one and also seating along the sushi bar. We were seated inside, the dining area was pretty much full, aside from the sushi bar seating, menus were given and drink orders taken. Intrigued by the lychee martini (I've had it at other places before, and am generally a fan), the three of us ordered a round on them. This drink was actually the most disappointing part of the night - the menu listed it as being made with vodka, pineapple and lychee, but it tasted more like vanilla vodka mixed with something non-complimentary, a lychee fruit dropped at the bottom for decoration.
For appetizers, we ordered the minced filet mignon and shittake mushroom in a lettuce cup, and the yellowtail sashimi salad. The former was slightly salty (and there weren't enough mushrooms for me), but wrapped in a leaf of lettuce, the green provided a nice bland crunchy contrast to the meat-mushroom mixture, and it balanced the saltiness nicely. We were all blown away by the latter - 5 good-sized slices of yellowtail sashimi, ginger chips and thin slices of serrano peppers atop, drizzled with a yuzu white truffle vinaigrette. I didn't pick up the white truffle flavour so much, perhaps the yuzu overpowered it, but this was absolutely scrumptious. The sashimi was of good quality, and we fought over the remaining pieces.
For entrees, we ordered the two specials of the night - a 1 1/2 lb maine lobster served with soba noodles and a special sushi platters - as well as the pineapple fried rice. The lobster was a hit - it was grilled and split in half, the claws removed from their shells so that we wouldn't actually have to crack anything to get to the meat. I think it was drizzled with another kind of yuzu vinaigrette, but I don't remember. The soba noodles were also great. The fried rice - actually listed on the menu as "Nasi Goreng in Fresh Pineapple Cup - indonesian-style fried rice with chinese sausage in a pineapple cup" was served atop a hollowed-out quarter of pineapple. I am generally not a fan of cooked pineapple, but didn't mind it as much in this dish - I think they had cooked the pineapple separately and then combined it with the fried rice, as the taste of cooked pineapple didn't permeate the dish. For the life of me, I can't remember what was on the special sushi platter - but the three of us were so full we couldn't do more than nibble on a piece or two, regretfully leaving the rest behind.
For dessert, we split the chocolate lava cake. Towards the end of us nibbling on the entrees, the waitress did ask us if we wanted to order it, since it takes 20 minutes to prepare. Stupidly, we said we'd wait until we were ready for dessert to see if we wanted it, which of course we did so we had to wait that extra 20 minutes. But that was definitely our fault, we were warned. A small molten chocolate cake, the kind that's all gooey and runny inside, was served alongside a large scoop of vanilla ice cream.
All the dishes were exquisitely presented, orchids often showing up as adornment. They were pretty too look at, and tasted great too. Who could ask for more?
Service was great throughout - the waitress was friendly and stopped by just frequently enough for us to reorder drinks (even offering to one of my friends that she could get another drink in lieu of the lychee martini she barely touched), and didn't seem to put out that we ordered the chocolate lava dessert later rather than earlier. Water was filled semi-promptly.
All in all, we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of food found here, as so often in such establishments the emphasis is on the club/drinking part, rather than the food. It is a young crowd, nearly everyone in his/her 20s.
By the time we left our table at 11:15ish, the restaurant (or at least the indoor part we were in) was about half-way empty, although people were still trickling in to eat.
The check came to nearly $200, before tip, for 2 appetizers, 3 entrees, 1 dessert and 7 drinks. A touch on the pricey side, perhaps, but you are paying for the name as well as the food (and keep in mind we ordered the specials, which were more expensive than the regular entrees.) I'd come back with a group of friends - then afterwards, you can dance off the calories eaten in the club half of the place. Perhaps too noisy for a date, and perhaps not the right atmosphere too - you do want to go clubbing afterwards, isn't that why you ate here in the first place? All in all, it was a good place to go, if you're in that mood for eating/drinking/dancing.