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Christopher Gardner

Spring Roll Fling: White Lotus showcases a spice-laden gamut of meatless and eggless dishes.

Asian and vegetarian home cooking share the bill at White Lotus

By Judi Blackwell

Located, as are so many fine but unassuming ethnic eateries, in downtown San Jose, White Lotus presents an oasis of flavors for those who would explore vegetarian-friendly dining. White linens top the small tables at this brightly lit, aromatic restaurant, closed for remodeling after a kitchen fire and recently reopened with newly painted walls, carpeted floors and lights. It's all fresh, friendly and neat as a pin.

As we learned on a recent lunchtime visit, White Lotus showcases a spice-laden gamut of meatless and eggless dishes: vermicelli salads and soups, chow mein and chow fun, Thai soups, stir-frys, and such favorites as sweet-and-sour soups and rice combos. Though everything is quite simply prepared, it's worth a visit, especially if you're already in the neighborhood.

I ordered a mushroom soup ($2) to start with, and my companion opted for the spring rolls ($3.50), interesting creations of mushrooms, lettuce, mint leaves, tofu, carrots and jicama rolled in moist rice paper that contrasted nicely with the accompanying peanut sauce. The soup--loaded with straw mushrooms and texturized vegetarian ham--was simple, and if not for my intense love of mushrooms would have been rather bland.

For one of our entrees, we'd chosen a beautiful display of stuffed tofu--filled with clear noodles and black mushroom--that came drenched in sweet, deeply flavored marinated tomatoes ($6.95). The delicate flavor of the interior almost disappeared against the tomato accompaniments, but the tofu exterior was soft, ethereally light and expertly cooked.

Another entree, chicken curry soup, proved more adventuresome ($5.50). Slices of sweet yam, potatoes and bean curd floated in a spicy concoction of coconut milk and curry. Before dipping in, we were advised to use the soup as a sauce over rice in order to fully enjoy the meal, which we did.

Friendly service, comfortable ambiance and winning flavors made two more lifelong White Lotus fans in less than an hour. We finished up with cups of iced coffee with sweet condensed milk ($1.95). A dessert of steamed plantains served with coconut milk, tapioca and peanuts ($2) proved uneventful, but the tapioca cooked with coconut milk, yuca and sweet potatoes ($1.95) dazzled my taste buds.

White Lotus is located at 80 N. Market St, San Jose, 408/977-0540. Mon.-Thu., 11am-2:30pm and 5:30-9pm; Fri., 11am-2:30pm and 5:30-10pm; Sat.-Sun., 11am-10pm.

Send tips to Vegging Out at 550 S. First St., San Jose, 95113, or email to [email protected].

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From the April 4-10, 1996 issue of Metro

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