By Allan Borgen
Having been open since 1986, the Lotus Garden Chinese Restaurant is considered by many to be the premier Chinese restaurant in the IE—and for good reason. The food is fresh and always tasty, the portions are plenty and the service is friendly and attentive. What more could any diner want?
Lotus Garden’s success can be attributed to both of the owners who have exhibited a long-time dedication to being present at the restaurant at all times. A majority of the cooks and servers have also worked at the Lotus Garden for many years, as well.
As you enter the large, free-standing Pagoda style-restaurant, you are greeted by a serene Asian-themed water fountain and a large, happy Buddha whose timeless smile ensures that you’ll leave the restaurant with a similar happiness.
The menu features a large variety of both traditional as well as some original Szechwan and Mandarin dishes. One of my favorite appetizers is the Crab Rangoon. This popular appetizer consists of eight deep-fried wontons that are stuffed (there’s no exaggeration here, I mean absolutely stuffed) with delicious cream cheese, shrimp and crab filling. These are without a doubt the best wontons I’ve ever had!
The Lotus Garden’s main house special, Three Flavors in a Basket is a beautifully fried noodle basket filled with ample amounts of chicken, beef, shrimp and assorted Chinese vegetables arrived. It took a lot of restraint to avoid devouring it instantly. The assorted meats and veggies were wok’ed in a flavorful sauce and lovingly placed inside a large crisp noodle basket. In addition to the delightful goodies found inside the noodles, tearing the basket apart and enjoying each thin pasta strand became a therapeutic stress reliever. Another house special that I have ordered and loved for many years is the Shrimp A La Chef which offers a huge portion of lightly breaded and crispy fried shrimp coated with a sweet and pungent sauce, surrounded by fresh broccoli. The dish not only looked gorgeous but the contrasting flavors and textures of the shrimp and broccoli was outstanding.
On my next flight of dishes came the classic Kung Pao Chicken, the Whole Crispy Chicken and the exciting Orange Peel Beef. All Chinese restaurants have Kung Pao Chicken on their menu, it’s a plain-and-simple staple of Chinese cuisine. However the sauce which this dish is cooked in is better than any other competing Kung Pao sauces; it marryies the chicken and peanuts perfectly. One of the best values of the evening was the Whole Crispy Chicken which was a massive order of marinated and fried chicken that can take up to 20 minutes to prepare. For those who are patient, the tasty chicken is outstanding and well worth the wait. Lastly, the wonderful Orange Peel Beef features thin slices of beef that’s lightly floured and deep-fried until each slice is nice and crisp. With the added sautéed dried orange peels, chili-pods and green onions in a zesty orange soy sauce makes it a joy to experience.
I have been a long-time customer of the Lotus Garden since it first opened it’s doors over 25 years ago. Once you have experienced the food, you too will become a loyal customer!
Lotus Garden Chinese Restaurant, 111 E. Hospitality Ln., San Bernardino, (909) 381-6171; www.lotusgardensanbernardino.com. AE, D, MC, V.
Follow Allan on Saturday afternoon from 3pm-5pm on the Let’s Dine Out Food, Travel & Entertainment radio show on KTIE 590 am, on the Let’s Dine Out TV show Friday nights at 6:30pm on CH. 24, KVCR-PBS. You can contact Allan at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (909) 910-3463. Visit his web sites www.letsdineoutshow.com and www.feedme411.com.