The Lotus Floating Chinese restaurant - the exterior looks much better than the interior
While there are a number of pubs or restaurants along River Thames, Lotus is probably the one full fledged Chinese (Cantonese) restaurant on the water in London. Together with Royal China, which is located at Westferry Circus, Lotus dominates the Chinese culinary scene in London's Canary Wharf.
The large boat that Lotus is based in, stringed with Christmas lights (aptly pointed out by a pal), is definitely more alluring in the evening when the sun sets as the gaiety of it contrasted with the tall dark office and residential buildings that surrounded it. Apparently, Lotus is the place to go for Sunday dim sum according to the Wharf people.
A couple of us were there for a early dinner one weekend. The place (or boat if you prefer) was a bit empty at about 6pm and we were a bit disappointed when we were shown a table on the lower deck. We were told by a frequent patron to Lotus that we should always opt for tables on the top deck as opposed to the lower (or ground) deck as the staff serving the lower deck are old-timers and tend to be a bit brusque in their service.
A Roast Pork and Roast Pork Fillet combination
We ordered a portion Roast Pork and Roast Pork Fillet (charsiew). These, together with roast duck, forms the staple of the Cantonese restaurants in London. The fillet was mostly lean meat, which was good, being healthier and all. The roast pork, however, was sliced too thinly perhaps for the sake of presentation.
Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs - more ribs than pork
The Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs was ordered on my behest. I've grown a bit addicted to the sweet and sour sauce after setting foot in London. There was nothing really much about this dish, which obviously offered more ribs than pork. However, if you, like me, have a sadomasochist streak in you and enjoy the agony of trying to separate the meat from the ribs without behaving like a barbarian, do go for this dish.
Beef tendons - fantastic for those who can afford to bust a diet
Being absolute carnivores, we ordered another meat dish - Niu Nang (beef tendons), which came in a claypot. Its starchy corn flour laden gravy went well with "fragrant" white rice. With a good mix of lean and fatty chunks of meat, this is probably one of the safe dish that you can rely on when all else fails.
Though I have been to Lotus twice for Sunday morning dim sum, what left a deeper impression on me was not the food itself but the staff's blunt service that was to be expected of a no frills Chinese restaurant. Make no mistake, Lotus is neither Kai nor Yauatcha. Then again, the bill at Lotus came up to be a fraction of that at Kai. If you are one for bustling atmosphere and don't mind waiters chatting noisily with each other beside your table, Lotus is the place to go.
Address: 38 Limeharbour, Inner Millwall Dock, Isle of Dogs, London, E14 9RHTel: 020 7515 6445
Nearest DLR station: Crossharbour
Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £15 pp
Service charge: 10%
Suitable for: large family gatherings or a late Sunday dim sum breakfast, definitely not for couples