Pdho’s relatives just opened up a new Vietnamese restaurant in Newport Beach called Cafe Lotus. The place just opened about a week ago, so we decided to stop by for lunch to check everything out. The restaurant is more like a Vietnamese bistro or cafe that serves a sampling of typical Vietnamese dishes like pho, rice vermicelli (bun), poulet roti (com ga roti) and crepes (banh xeo).
The pate chaud was pretty tasty. It had the typical buttery flaky crust with some pretty good pork and pate filling. It was so good, I really wished there was more of it.
The eggs rolls were a little bit on the small side, but I enjoyed them. They could use some more filling, and I think maybe mine were a little bit on the dry side, but generally speaking, I love egg rolls and these weren’t too bad.
The poulet roti was a little bit disappointing, but I think it’s also because I had some high expectations. I love poulet roti, but I haven’t had it in a while. The hard thing with roast chicken in general is that it can be kind of dry. Unfortunately, this was the case with the chicken on this dish. I was hoping for some more unctuous flavor, but the dryness made it hard to taste any flavor in the chicken. On the flip side, I really like the rice. There is something about the rice that is served in the Vietnamese version of the poulet roti. It always has this reddish color, but I’m not sure if it comes from the use of tomatoes. It doesn’t really taste like it. Nevertheless, it was probably the best part of the dish.
The Bun Cha was pretty good. This dish is made of grilled pork with a few ground pork patties that is eaten with rice vermicelli noodles, lettuce, pickled vegetables and fish sauce. This is one of my favorite luncheon meals, and it turned out pretty good. The pork had that nice grilled flavor and I really liked the meat patty.
The Pho Ga was probably not the best I’ve had, but it wasn’t bad. Strangely enough, the pho noodles were kind of al dente which you don’t often find with pho. I actually kind of liked it. The broth was pretty clean tasting with some nice chicken flavor. I thought it was decent.
Overall, the food is decent. Given its location in Newport Beach, it doesn’t really have a lot of competition for customers looking for Vietnamese food. As a result, I think they are probably catering to a relatively non-Vietnamese clientele and the taste and flavors probably reflect that. The food tastes decent though. It just doesn’t taste completely Vietnamese, almost like they had to lighten up on the flavors. I also think the portions and prices are representative of its location, higher rent commands higher prices. Nevertheless, it’s a cute little restaurant and considering there are very options for Vietnamese edibles in this part of Orange County, it is definitely worth a try.
325 Old Newport Blvd
Newport Beach, CA 92663
PAFO Ratings for Cafe Lotus:
Price 2 stars
Ambiance 3 stars
Food 3 stars
Overall rating 3½ stars