More and more Chinese restaurants are moving away from Chinatown. Red Farm, Mission Chinese... well we don't have all night to wait in line, so we stopped by Lotus Blue.
This is a great place to get a light lunch, and the ingredients are obviously high quality, but the cuisine is as confused as the music. Like its location and name, the restaurant seems to want to say that they are Chinese, but not grungy and loud like the restaurants in Chinatown. On the other hand, they want to be affordable and authentic unlike Mr. Chow's.
The decor was tranquil with large lotus blossoms painted on orangey walls. But the air was filled with deafening caterwauling mixed with some bone flute and impossibly slow disco music. During my discomfort, I really did think that perhaps they were playing two songs at once.
Chicken soup in clay pot. It was a little too lightly seasoned, especially since the waiter said that there were "a lot of Chinese herbs" inside. I must say that I didn't taste too many herbs, and the only thing in the soup other than the chicken were the delicious sliced strumpet mushrooms:
These things were cut crosswise. They are the little circular disks in the soup picture.
Overall the soup was good although under seasoned, and there was *a lot* of chicken. A lot of chicken.
Crispy red snapper. This is not what we expected. Instead of a whole fish fried and covered in sauce, the fish was filleted, pieces of fish were fried, and the sauce (sweet and spicy cocktail sauce?) came on the side.
The flavor was okay. Once again I was surprised that the food was under seasoned. There was literally no seasoning in the batter... not even salt.
I did enjoy the fish head though. I picked out all the tender pieces and left them an obliterated carcass muahaha.
The check came in a cute little pouch.
Instead of finding harmony between Chinatown and high end dining, the restaurant seems to have confused itself. The clubby ambiance attracts the loud crowd, but being slightly overpriced and in Tribeca, they have loud and slightly-better-heeled. Without the hype/advertisements/cache, Lotus Blue is not attracting foodies or celebrities, falling into the cracks of the NY restaurant scene. Its only hope lies with the locals.
It would be interesting to see how they do over the years. But for now, it's good for a quick Chinese food date if you don't want to walk in dead fish water (especially if they fix the music), and great for lunch, during which they have generous portions and interesting sides.