On Sunday night I was invited to have dinner at Lotus Restaurant in Marrickville with a group of food bloggers. Thank you to Simon for organising and Chartlotte Foot for the invite! It was great to catch up with some faces I haven't seen in a while and meet other bloggers for the first time.
With it's bold and minimalist interior Lotus is trying to do something a bit different in Marrickville. Standing out from the crowd of rustic Vietnamese restaurants known for serving up bowls of pho.
When I've been describing Lotus to friends during the week I've found myself almost apologetically describing the restaurant as pan-Asian. Cooking a mix of Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Chinese food is usually a recipe for mediocrity. However, Lotus is good! Perhaps they need a tag line?
All of the food is cooked fresh. It's lovely to see all of the fresh herbs, homemade curries and attention to detail in the food. Just check out the presentation in the salt and pepper squid above and in some of the dishes below. Unfortunately the painstaking attention to detail comes at a price, which is the slightly slow service. A trade off needs to be found without compromising on the food. Perhaps shortening the menu? Or getting an extra pair of hands in the kitchen?
Having recently bemoaned how expensive restaurants are becoming in Sydney and that it is unusual to see mains under $20-$25 on dinner menus, I was pleased to see everything under $18. The steady stream of people coming in for take-away orders during the night obviously agree.
If you go, order some Jasmine tea just for the comically large mugs that it gets served in, rather than the dainty little cups I'm used to.
Char grilled lemongrass prawn on skewers
I enjoyed the subtle lemongrass flavours, but unfortunately my prawn was slightly overcooked and a little bit tough.
Malaysian-style grilled satay chicken
The chicken was beautifully moist and soft. However, the satay sauce lacked the punch of flavour that I was expecting.
Braised pork belly with green papaya salad
Roast duck & lychee salad
The two salads were quite similar with lots of freshly picked herbs and generous amounts of pork and duck respectively (although not much lychee). I preferred the the duck salad for it's more lively dressing. Whenever I see papaya in a salad I think of the mighty Thai som dtam and the pork belly salad was a bit too timid for me.
Malaysian Rendang chicken
This was one of my two favourite dishes of the night. It's unusual to have a chicken rendang, but the chichen thighs were lovely and tender. The homemade curry paste had a great flavour full of spices and heat.
M. B. S. (mushroom, bean curd & snow peas)
This was one of my choices for the evening. Definitely not bad, but it was outshone by the other dishes of the night for me. However, it was some people's favourite!
Malaysian-style chili sambal prawns
Don't be fooled by the innocuous looking small shreds of chilli, this dish was pretty hot! The prawns were de-veined and well cooked.
Braised prawns with red curry paste, pumpkin & kaffir lime leaves
This was my second choice of dish for the evening and it was a definite winner! There was heat from the chilli, sour from tamarind and lots of flavour from the spices. I really liked how the pumpkin was very soft and tender. If I was to go back I'd definitely order this dish again.
Lotus dessert plate for 2: Dark chocolate truffle with raspberry sauce, Black sticky rice pudding with coconut sauce, Lychee sorbet, mango sorbet
I'm a sucker for sticky rice and really enjoyed the black sticky rice. The mango sorbet was particularly good too.
Fried coconut ice cream with passionfruit sauce
The ice cream was very popular round the table, although I have to admit I'm not a big fan of fried ice-cream.
The other lovely food bloggers at dinner:
Simon Food Favourites
Leona from Pigged Out
Simon from The Heart of Food
Phouc 'n Delicious
Jennifer from Jenius
Betty from Sugarpuffi
Sara from Belly Rumbles
Denea from Gourmet Rabbit
Becca from The Bon Vivant
393 Illawarra Road