Saturday night. Rainy. Half drunk. In need of food. Marc and I are the absolute worst combination of people for deciding on what to eat. We're both 'anything goes' and 'whatever' which is great when there's someone assertive who knows what they want to eat but not so great when neither of us can come up with a single prominent idea. After lots of stuffing around, we figured we'd brave the rain and head to the valley where there was bound to be something good.
The only thing we both really KNEW we wanted was a place that also sold alcoholic drinks, but not swanky $100000 drinks. The first place we came across that met this criteria was Red Lotus. It looked inviting enough and we were sick of being drizzled on so we eagerly stepped in.
Our indecisiveness extended to the food too so rather than spending hours picking out specific dishes, we took the lazy route and chose the Lost in Saigon banquet.
For drinks, I got a Vietnamese iced coffee to start with and Marc went for a beer. I've had Vietnamese iced coffee plenty of times before but never like this. I annoyed a couple of waitstaff asking how it 'works' (it looked complicated on the menu with lots of steps/options and I was drunkish). I suppose this is the more authentic presentation. I was instructed to allow for the coffee to finish filtering (wait until it stops dripping) before mixing it up with the condensed milk and pouring it over the ice.
It was delicious! I think I mixed too much condensed milk in though, because it was a tad on the sweet side, but that was easily remedied with the additon of some water.
I also tried a Vietnamese beer for the first time, called 333.
Pork and prawn rice paper rolls, crispy chicken spring rolls and chargrilled lemongrass pork skewers
Our banquet entree platter included a couple of pork and prawn rice paper rolls, some spring rolls and grilled pork skewers. I'm a huge fan of rice paper rolls and thought these were delish.
They were very plain and simple but that's basically what it's all about: fresh ingredients and a nice dipping sauce. I loved the spring rolls too. They were crunchy without tasting too oily. The pork skewers had a great flavor but were a tad dry for my liking.
Sauteed lemongrass chili chicken, caramelized twice cooked pork ribs and green papaya salad with pork and prawns
The mains included lemongrass chicken, caramelized pork belly and a green papaya salad. The chicken and pork were both saucy and flavorsome. They were extremely moreish and went well with rice. My favorite was probably the green papaya salad. It was just so crisp and clean with a gorgeous dressing, perfectly balanced in sweetness and tanginess. Of special note is these cool circular prawn crackers. I was very impressed by these. They were tasty! And circular :).
After our lovely mains, I was looking forward to the dessert, which was described as 'Asian flavored ice cream' on the menu. They came as 1 x sticky rice flavored and 1 x jackfruit flavored ice cream. I was very excited about the sticky rice ice cream because it's exactly the kind of thing I'm into. The actual sticky rice grains were too al dente but the flavor was delish. The jackfruit ice cream was very subtle, possibly a good thing. I haven't had real jackfruit or durian before so I'm not exactly a connoisseur.
I don't know if I was just super hungry that night but I thought everything was delicious!! There are a few negative reviews online but I can't say my experience was at all negative. The service was nice and efficient too and the serving sizes were just right for us. When we got there we were asked if we had a booking and thought 'pfft as if it's necessary' because it looked quite empty. When we were well into our meal, the place was packed! Red Lotus is a popular place for good reason. It's decked out stylishly with a thorough menu, good service and tasty food.