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schmooty

Lotus Cafe, Hackensack

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When I moved to Hackensack in early 2000, Lotus Cafe quickly became my Chinese restaurant of choice. I found virtually all of their dishes to be good, and some to be outstanding. Over the last year and a half a few things have happened. First, I found Phoenix Garden in NYC. (that's a whole other topic). Than I joined e-gullet, which opened my eyes to lots of new food options (Finks, Wondees, La Batalla). Finally, I found China 46. In this new equation, Lotus ended up forgotten in the shuffle.

I decided to go back to Lotus with my dad and sister tonight. Overall, the food was very good. They still make the basics quite well ie. soup, ribs, wontons. We than ordered a shrimp soong w/ pineuts served in lettuce wraps. This was my favorite dish of the night and prepared perfectly. Peas and thin crunchy noodles add a great texture. The kung pao chicken w. peanuts is a pretty good rendition of the dish. Tangerine Beef which was always my favorite dish back in the day was still solid, but the coating on the outside was overcooked. When they cook the beef to

medium rare/ medium and the coating is done right, this dish has the potential to be unreal.

Lastly, I tried a dish that an e-gulleter recommended; sauteed dow shiao mein. It's a noodle dish in a sha cha sauce. The smokiness of the sauce combined with the shape of the noodles made for an unusual and excellent dish.

For those looking for a solid Chinese meal this place is for you. If you are a little more exotic, there are plenty of options as well. The service is always friendly and the prices quite reasonable. Lotus may not be on the of level China 46, but few places are. Personally, I eat a lot more Chinese food during the winter. Lotus Cafe is back in rotation!

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Do they make Shredded Beef Szechuan? I love this dish, and have never seen it in NJ, but it is ubiquitous at every small Chinese Resto on the Upper West Side!!

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Lotus Cafe is on River St. in Hackensack -- in the small strip mall where the larger Home Depot mall and Pathmark are located.

Lotus Cafe remains one of my favorite "regular" places to eat Chinese. The food is consistently good and the staff is always friendly.

I'm glad that someone else here agrees with me about Lotus. I know that most of you are high on China 46, and Lotus may not be quite up to that level, but it's an alternative!

Janbee


Lover of Broadway, beaches and chocolate.

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We have eaten here twice. The first time we really liked it, and decided to return. The second time was not so good. Very greasy. We had chicken with cashews, and an eggplant dish. We have not gone back again. Perhaps they have good and bad nights. Not sure, but China 46 is our favorite and we go often.

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Even though the veg dish said "sweet peas" they were definitely edamame, good, but not what the menu indicated. The seafood stuffed eggplant was very good. The eggplant was cut thinner than the dim sum version of stuffed eggplant with black bean sauce, and they were fried, so crispier, under the sauce. The noodles were great.

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Okay..maybe I am a sucker for the hard sell...the tasty photos, the good reviews. We went here again last night thinking we would give it three chances...one time was good, one wasn't..this was the clincher. Did a 'chinese' search and saw the photos and read the reviews and thought maybe I am missing something. No, unfortunately, no. I ordered a staple dish...chicken w/mushrooms. It was mediocre. One big button mushroom cut up with some chicken, snow peas & carrots. It is only my opinion, but my goodness, how is this place deserving of photos? In fact, how are many of the places deserving that have the photos and stellar reviews worthy?? Is it me? Do we lower the bar in NJ? Do I just not get it?? I have visited many of the photo op restaurants as of late, and have been amazed at the mediocrity of the food, ambiance, & service. The whole package. Please, stop with the hard sell unless it is really stellar!

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I recommend and photograph what I like, jwjojo.

Chicken with Mushrooms is not one of their feature dishes, as far as I understand. The Taiwanese stuff is what the place specializes in, particularly the noodles.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I recommend and photograph what I like, jwjojo.

Chicken with Mushrooms is not one of their feature dishes, as far as I understand. The Taiwanese stuff is what the place specializes in, particularly the noodles.

The fact that it is not a feature dish is not a good excuse for poor execution..period. If it is on the menu, do it well, otherwise don't bother. Your photos are very good...good execution. And your reviews are very good, very convincing. The two combined are a hard sell indeed.

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I must say, I agree with both of you. Lotus cafe is 5 minutes from where I live and I hadn't been there in 5 years. It was always just OK, not bad but nothing special. And China 17 was just as close and much better. When it closed, I hated having to drive to China 46 but there really is no good chinese food closer. When I saw Jason's photos a few months ago, I went back and ordered those dishes. And they were outstanding. And looking around the restaurant, the standard Chinese fare looked just passable. So thanks for the heads up Jason and jwjojo, its a very selective menu for good options.

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Hey, my reply was posted! Long time listener, first time caller. Thanks for having me and I hope to add my 2 cents more often.

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Another dish that Lotus Cafe does exceptionally well is the 3 Cup Chicken, which I think is mentioned in that Bergen Record review linked above. Its cooked in a clay pot, and has a lot of basil and ginger in it. Its a typical Taiwanese dish and is named that way because its prepared (in larger amounts) with 1 cup of Soy Sauce, 1 Cup of Rice Wine and 1 Cup of Sesame Oil.

http://www.recipezaar.com/83475

The Ta Loo Mein noodle soup is also exceptional.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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All this talk about Lotus Cafe propelled us to return the other night. We had the three cup chicken again, of course, but tried a few new to us items as well. So, for your future ordering pleasure:

  • Beef and Tofu Chowder - excellent. Slightly egg thickened broth with little pieces of braised beef (not ground/chopped), carrots, peas, diced tofu, there is a strong cilantro and sesame oil flavor
    Dumplings - we got boiled seafood and pan-fried pork. Their dumpling skin is kind of medium thick. I prefer thin skinned dumplings, and these were thicker than I like, but not as thick as horribly thick skinned dumplings you get at a lot of take out places. The boiled ones were poorly executed. The skins were torn on a few of them and overcooked, the seafood filling bland. The pork on the other hand were nicely cooked and the filling was excellent. So get the pan-fried over the boiled. Next time we'll see if the seafood is better in the pan-fried version. (See we don't necessarily love everything we order here either!)
    Vegetables wrapped in tofu skin appetizer - This is similar to a dim sum item we've had at Silver Pond. The tofu skin is crispy fried. It's good, but not a must order, a nice alternative to an egg roll for a vegetarian.
    Happy Monks Feast - We usually order a vegetarian dish. This one was very good, it seems a different variation on the ubiquitous "Budda's Delight," with an ordinary brown sauce. But the vegetables were nicely cooked, and a good combination. It also included strips of tofu skin, so it might be a good option for someone looking for a noodle dish but doesn't want actual noodles (Atkins, wheat intolerance). We find that Lotus Cafe has a lot of nice vegetable dishes, one of our favorites is the sauteed mushroom combination.
    Lotus Delight - I'm not 100% sure about the name here, it's about halfway down the Chef's specialties page of the menu. It is similar to mu shu in concept, you eat it wrapped in thin pancakes with hoisin. But the dish has cellophane noodles, strips of firm tofu in addition to pork and vegetables and is topped with an egg omelet. It makes for an impressive presentation, and is delicious to boot.

Well, I hope that gives you all some more ordering options. :cool: We took at least half of everything home, btw, what we do for you people. :laugh: One final note, the place was packed on a Tuesday night, we had to wait a couple of minutes for a table. Oh, and Alan is an excellent waiter, ask for him by name. :smile:

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gallery_2_4_40266.jpg

Beef/Tofu Chowder

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Pan Fried Pork Dumplings

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Seafood Dumplings, which I agree with Rachel would have been better if we ordered them pan fried instead of boiled.

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Tofu Skin Wrapped Vegetables Appetizer

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Tofu Skin Wrapped Vegetables, opened

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Lotus Delight

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Lotus Delight, portion with pancake

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Happy Monks Feast

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3 Cup Chicken

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Main Dining Room


Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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So funny you guys were just there. We went tonite and loved it. Decided to browse e gullet to see if you had any reviews about it. Wouldn't u know, u were just there too!! We have been disappointed with Dim Sum Dynasty the last couple of times.

The sauces were too salty and heavy. So, I said to my hub , 'Lets go to that little place in Hackensack,' and we did. I finally now know the name.

I think its great, regular, traditional chinese , as well as authentic different dishes.

Similar to what u might get in Chinatown. The filet of sole with ginger and scallions was delicious as was the roast pork with sting beans. Everything I've ever gotten there has been great and its CHEAP, and the service is excellent.

I'm gonna try some of those dishes pictured, they look amazing. Thanks for that.

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Ate here last night - busy Sunday - and had to wait just a few minutes. Out with in-laws, so had to be conscious of "not too spicy, please" as I ordered. Generally followed Jason's advice and had a very good meal.

Fried Pork Dumplings were good. A large portion of eight pieces, with skin a little thicker than I'd like and a tasty all meat filling.

Vegetable roll in tofu skin - excellent. Tasty and well prepared. Yum.

Shrimp soong - in lettuce leaf. Ordered when I saw it served to a Chinese family as we entered. Excellent rendition of a common dish. Also available with Chicken.

Lotus delight - Another success. As noted above, like moo sho, with the flavors and textures exceptionally well-balanced.

Blossom Chicken - Chicken and vegetable saute, served with steamed buns. A good dish, but I should have ordered something else to give better contrast to the other choices.

Service was ok, considering how busy they were. Meal was well-paced, which does not always happen in busy Chinese restaurants. We left stuffed, and the tab was $50, before tip. I'll be back when I'm next in the area.

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So funny you guys were just there.  We went tonite and loved it.  Decided to browse e gullet to see if you had any reviews about it.  Wouldn't u know, u were just there too!! We have been disappointed with Dim Sum Dynasty the last couple of times.

The sauces were too salty and heavy.  So, I said to my hub , 'Lets go to that little place in Hackensack,' and we did.  I finally now know the name.

I think its great, regular, traditional chinese , as well as authentic different dishes.

Similar to what u might get in Chinatown.  The filet of sole with ginger and scallions was delicious as was the roast pork with sting beans.  Everything I've ever gotten there has been great and its CHEAP, and the service is excellent.

I'm gonna try some of those dishes pictured, they look amazing.  Thanks for that.

I don't know if its me or does every chinese restaurant go downhill after awhile?

Used to love Lotus Cafe, now I find their sauces too salty and heavy.

I try to order the lighter stuff and still its covered in heavy, salty sauces and way too oily. What a shame. Went last nite and haven't felt good all day.

Guess I'll stick to vietnamese!

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One of the few Asians restos that don't give you that queasy feeling after eating there is Wild Ginger in Ridgewood. (Not affiliated with the same named resto in Englewood).

They use really fresh ingredients, fresh veggies, and the dishes are nice combinations of great flavors. Sauces are light. My new go-to Asian in Bergen County!

Wild Ginger

31 Chestnut St

Ridgewood

201-857-3830

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We have eaten here twice.  The first time we really liked it, and decided to return.  The second time was not so good.  Very greasy.  We had chicken with cashews, and an eggplant dish.  We have not gone back again.  Perhaps they have good and bad nights.  Not sure, but China 46 is our favorite and we go often.

Greasy is authentic; tell them to hold it down, and they will.

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