All the Vietnamese dishes at Seattle Lotus are fully vegetarian, and tasty, too.
Nestled in a small White Center strip mall next to a Little Caesar’s, Seattle Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant is a plant-lover’s dream.
Everything on the five-page menu is vegetarian, from the stir-fried egg noodle to the eggplant stone pot — even the vermicelli with grilled pork is safe from animal meat.
Owner My Tran wanted to open the shop so people would have more vegetarian options in the area. Tran, who is a monk at nearby Van Hoa Temple, is also hoping to gain money to help that Buddhist community build a new temple.
Seattle Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant
10439 16th Ave. S.W., (White Center) Seattle; open daily 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; 206-466-6345
After the restaurant opened last month just south of White Center’s main street, Seattle Lotus shifted from opening six days a week to a full seven, reflected on takeout menus with a quick cross-out and rewrite of the pen. That changeable ease is apparent throughout the casual, comfortable restaurant where quick meals are the norm.
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The bright, simple space features an arch painted in primary colors and several depictions of Buddha, both as statues and on a large screen in the corner of the restaurant. Big windows are curiously covered with computer renderings of tropical vacation scenes, complete with hotel pools and blue skies.
Inside, the mood is cheery and the lone server working on a Monday afternoon zipped around the half-full tables with ease.
Seattle Lotus has packed its menu with plant-based meat substitutes that show up in at least half the items. Meat-eaters will notice a difference in texture and flavor, though the result is still tasty, if a bit chewier than normal. But for vegetarians, Seattle Lotus will likely be a paradise.
The menu: Pretty much any Vietnamese dish you could be craving. Shrimp spring rolls and lotus-root salad for starters. Soft tofu soup, noodle soups, hot pots for colder weather. Sweet-and-sour beef and Kung Pao combos for entrees.
What to try: Bún Huế, a spicy noodle soup with round noodles, had the perfect amount of spice in its intensely flavorful broth that tastes a bit like hot-and-sour soup. Its delicious rice noodles are thicker than many and the soup is packed with mushrooms and meat substitutes. If you’re not in a soup mood, try the mixed tofu and mushroom stone pot. It indeed comes in a decorated stone pot and has crispy tofu, mushrooms and various proteins in a tangy sauce. To make it a full meal, get it with a side of rice.
What to skip: The fried chicken legs as an appetizer are a bit underwhelming. The coating is flaky and crisp, but the texture of the meat substitute is chewy and thick for those used to chicken wings with, well, real chicken. Instead, try the deep-fried wonton appetizer, which is crispy, flavorful, easy to share and comes with sweet-and-spicy sauce.
Prices: Hoành Thánh Vạn Hoa, deep-fried wonton ($3.95); Dùi Gà Chiên, fried chicken legs ($5.95); Bún Huế noodle soup ($8.50); Bún Chả Giò Thịt Nướng, vermicelli with grilled pork ($8.50); and Thập Cẩm Kho Tộ, mixed tofu and mushroom stone pot ($8.95), totaled $35.85, before tax and tip, enough to feed two people with so many leftovers it could easily feed two more.