RED LOTUS MISSISSAUGA

Red Lotus Mississauga

Red Lotus is a Chinese restaurant in Mississauga that specializes in Sichuan cuisine. It is one of my family’s favourite restaurants to visit and I’ve been trying to review it for months. Somehow, timing never worked and my parents always went without me. The one time we did try to stop by, the restaurant was closed for renovations. Finally in August, the stars aligned, renovations were done and I got to douse my taste buds with Sichuan peppercorns.

Atmosphere: I was pleasantly surprised by the restaurant’s renovation. Before, I would’ve classified Red Lotus as the typical Chinese restaurant, a little run down with simple but sturdy furniture. Now, the dining room’s gone through a slick modern update with pendent chandeliers and leather chairs. The restaurant’s always been packed with families and that hasn’t changed. Noise level can be loud when all of the tables are full there’s a general busy vibe as servers rush to and fro.

Service: There wasn’t any aspect of service that was noteworthy, positive or negative. Like most Chinese restaurants, service was efficient but not personal. Most of the servers speak Mandarin and English.

Food: In general, everything we ate at Red Lotus was well seasoned, authentic Northern Chinese cuisine and delicious. There was heat and spice without overpowering the natural flavours from the fresh ingredients.

Dinner began with a plate of stir fried lamb and peppers. There was a 50:50 ratio of meat to vegetable and the lamb was wonderfully gamey. The peppers were also fragrant and sweet. Next to arrive were two Chinese beef rolls. Even though the pancakes were thick, they were fried to a crisp. Rolled inside each pancake was plenty of beef filling, the white part of green onions and hoisin like sauce. The Hubby had high praise and named this beef roll one of the best he’s eaten in the GTA.

We also ordered fried pork with wrappers. Usually this dish is served with thin flour wrappers, almost like tortillas, but Red Lotus used sheets of tofu. This dish is kind of like a Chinese taco and the pork is cut into thin strips, stir fried and coated in a sweet, savoury sauce. A great hands on dish and not spicy. I would’ve loved some cucumber strips to add into my wraps. As our carb for the evening, I requested a bowl of dan dan mian. The somen noodles at Red Lotus were cooked past al dente and the seasoning was bang-on. This dish was also not high on the heat chart but had lots of peppery, numbing oil.

Getting a little hotter was the deep fried chicken pieces with chillies and Sichuan peppercorns (La zi Ji Ding – 辣子鸡丁). Compared to other restaurants, this dish at Red Lotus had a ton of chicken, and not just batter or skin but chicken meat. The spice level was also perfect and as my tongue burned, I kept going back, digging around the peppers for the tasty golden fried chicken morsels.

We tried one of the chef’s special stews at Red Lotus. In a broth of chilli oil and Sichuan peppers, the stew had quail eggs, pork blood, intestine, nappa, spam, glass noodles, enoki mushrooms and more. All of the already savoury ingredients were infused with spice and pepper, resulting in a flavorful, numbing dish. The wok was served on a butane stove that kept the stew bubbling throughout the meal, this also meant the flavours grew richer and every bite grew spicier. The blood had a consistency like tofu with a hint of meatiness. Even if you’re unfamiliar with some of the ingredients, this would be a great way to try them out since they would strongly seasoned.

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