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|Lotus Asian Restaurant|
zIt’s a chilly autumn evening when we locate Lotus n the far end of Illawarra Road, Marrickville, near the railway.
Just two steps from the footpath and the cold is forgotten. The interior of Lotus is warm and comforting – tone on terracotta tone that makes you feel cosy even before you see the menu.
Open for just 10 months, this coals-to-Newcastle (well, Asian-food-to-Marrickville) restaurant has got a hard job of it, making a point of difference. This suburb, in case you haven’t been keeping up, is packed full of Asian eateries, many of them Vietnamese. Most of them little more than a chopstick away from each other. A plus for Lotus, being a little removed from the main drag, in the Greek, un-Asian path, is that parking is easy. We rejoiced in that.
While Lotus walks the pan-Asian path, chef-owner Danh Cao is from Hanoi, and his wife, front of house, Kim Nguyen, is from Saigon, so Vietnamese cuisine sparkles along with Chinese and Malaysian fare..
There are two special banquets on the menu, $30 and $40, and well-priced starters ($7-$9.50) and mains of $14.50-$18.50. But the choices were easy for us after a recent trip to Vietnam.
My starter of pork belly and green papaya salad had all the right flavours that I’d learned just weeks ago, and the pieces of pork belly were crisp and a marvellous addition.
OK, I could have had a main of Malaysian chilli sambal or stir fried beef, or even crispy braised duck with wombok (and I was tempted!) but another Viet dish won me. Bo Luc Lac at Lotus is a wonderful peppery wok-fried dish of bouncy cubes of tender beef, ideal with rice. For the other dish we chose duck curry with pineapple and tomatoes.
“We make all our curries from scratch, here,” Kim had told me proudly before the meal, and this was well evident in the beautifully melded yet fresh flavours, perfect with the tender duck. A superb dish.
We savoured our meal under the watchful eye of a contemplative Buddha at the far end of the room, the only light accent in the room. All else was tangerine and persimmon and we found the simply elegant interior Zen-like, the background music day-spa calming. I admired their restrain in leaving it simple and not fussing
After Asian comfort food like Danh Cao’s, in this environment, I reckon I could stay here a long time – or, more practically, return often.
Lotus Asian Restaurant, 393 Illawarra Rd, Marrickville, NSW, 02 9559 8895. Mon-Wed 5.30pm to 10pm, Thurs-Fri 5.30pm t 10.30pm, Sat 5-10.30pm, Sun 11am-3pm, 5pm-9.30pm. BYO.
GPS: -33.915138, 151.152095
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