What: Golden Lotus
Where: Downtown Oakland, Calif.
When: Saturday, February 13, 2010
Why: The perfect mixture of Valentine's Eve, starving artist boyfriend, Supreme Master TV, and vegan avocado smoothies.
The Scoop: Let’s face it—San Franciscans look for every excuse to avoid schlepping to the East Bay. We spend our days in blissful seven-by-seven insularity, indifferent to the charms of Oakland, which could just as well be as far away as Shangri-la. But sometimes the mood to travel strikes—especially when the cupboards are bare, love is in the air, and your boyfriend starts hankering for Golden Lotus.
The completely veg restaurant is an unassuming operation—think vinyl booths and beige-tile floors. It serves primarily Vietnamese cuisine, with a healthy side of pan-Southeast Asian fare. Prominently featured Supreme Master slogans and iconography define the décor, and a flat-screen TV streams Supreme Master TV into the dining room. (Vietnamese-born Supreme Master Ching Hai is a media-savvy Buddhist activist, who promotes veganism and environmental stewardship.)
As at any Vietnamese eatery, I gravitate toward the country’s culinary hallmark, the fresh spring roll. The Golden Lotus doesn’t let me down: rice noodle, red lettuce, julienned carrot and daikon-radish, mint, shredded fried tofu, and succulent mock-chicken bits all come wrapped in a delicate rice-paper roll. A savory-sweet peanut dipping sauce rounds out the flavor.
The entrée selection is vast, including lemon chicken, broccoli beef, and ginger fish—all vegan, of course. Jason and I split the house special—spicy gourmet chicken—a delectable combination of fresh relish, zesty chilies, and flavorful mock-meat. Sweet-pickled zucchini, daikon radish, carrot, and hot pepper proved perfect bedfellows, and a bed of small-grain brown rice left my palate with a nutty finish.
At Golden Lotus it’s necessary to share the main course, lest your belly become too full to relish the array of after-dinner treats. Vegan carrot cupcakes, mocha chocolate cake, and caramel flan are just some of the options. We shared the avocado smoothie—two straws, please! With great glee we slurped-up and gulped-down the smoothie, which was delicate and not too-sweet. Sigh…
Jason's all dreamy over his creamy avocado smoothie.