Melbourne event enthusiast and moderately priced food eatery reviewer that expects Top Notch service and the use of fresh ingredients at all eateries.
Published July 13th 2014
Utterly delish Chinese cuisine in North Melbourne
One of the best vegetarian Chinese restaurants in Melbourne is this modest North Melbourne diner on Victoria Street, close to the Queen Victoria Market. Inside it's simply round tables for groups and smaller square tables for couples, all covered in butcher paper. Decorations are minimal, lighting is bright and there are spiritual notes on the walls for you to read as you wait for your order.
The all-vegan Chinese menu is broken into appetisers and then mock meat styles (tofu, vegetables and greens, chicken and steak), to make it simple for non-vegetarian to order what they would normally order at a non-vegetarian Chinese Restaurant.
The restaurant prides itself on catering for travellers of all religious paths. A special wheat/gluten-free menu is available. All dishes are free of onions, leeks, garlic, chives and shallots, which is great news for those allergic or sensitive to alliums. Cooking without these elements can be difficult, but White Lotus manages to provide delicious dishes in their absence.
You will find soy sheets layered and shaped into "chicken" drumsticks, mini dim sims and "calamari" served with tartare sauce for appetisers.
You will also find little meat-less dim sims steamed & served with dark soy sauce, alongside traditional menu items such as spring rolls and fried won tons. The chicken and corn soup is a sweet and flavoursome favourite amongst regulars, as is the vegetarian won ton soup.
The chef's specialities vary from your standard Chinese curry claypots to oven baked and grilled Vegetarian Fish; compressed and seasoned soy sheets and seaweed, with a mildly spice tamarind sauce.
Not your standard Malaysian or Thai strong peanut satay, the satay chicken and vegetables is the go to dish. Soy nuggets soak up a delicious mildly spicy satay sauce, and are stir-fried with carrots, capsicum, baby corn and other assorted vegetables. For those that enjoy the classic Chinese take away dish lemon chicken, White Lotus has their own take with soy nuggets deep-fried in a light batter served with a special White Lotus lemon sauce.
The Sweet and Sour Pork drifts into similar sticky and tasty territory, with soy protein fried in a light batter served with a special White Lotus sweet and sour sauce.
While White Lotus isn't the place to come for radical Chinese desserts, with only fruit fritters served with So Good soy ice cream available, you shouldn't need sweets after filling up on vegetables and innovative gluten / soy dishes.
Service is slow, but friendly, the room bright and minimalistic - the food is Chinese Vegetarian at it's best.