Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant (Toronto)

While vegetarian options have advanced slowly in Chinese cuisine, there has always been a meat-free menu at "Buddhist"-type restaurants that are usually also vegan friendly given the limited use of dairy (sometimes used in desserts) and eggs (generally only found in dishes like fried rice and dessert). Unfortunately, given their reliance on mock proteins and soy sauce seasoning, these establishments aren't great for gluten abstainers, but at least offers some choice for the plant-based community.

There are three dishes I always order at Chinese vegetarian restaurants, and they're all featured in this post. Firstly, is the assorted gluten ($8.99 for small), which is especially important to order at Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant as it will save you from becoming hangry. Maybe it's due to the after effects of COVID and being short staffed, but service is slow and over half an hour went by before the other dishes arrived. 

Within the gluten platter, the spongy puffs were served the traditional three ways: sweet and sour, curry, and soy sauce. While a little more subdued in it's flavour, especially the curry format, they were nice big pieces and a great texture. Usually, the sweet and sour puffs are my favourite, but Lotus' bean curd rolls stole the show as they were wrapped tightly to be easily picked up, but still incorporated with enough space between the sheets to give it a lovely moist layered texture. 

Despite arriving with a lovely golden brown crust, the four bean threads sheet roll ($4.59 for 2 pieces) was really soft - it almost seemed like the restaurant pan fried the rolls and steamed it to finish, rather than the other way around. It was disappointing as what makes this dish good is the crispy crust mixed with the saucy vegetables. Nonetheless, there were ample amounts of well-seasoned black fungus, carrots, bean sprouts, and mushrooms within the roll and the layers of bean sheets weren't too thick. If this was just crispy, this would have been perfect.

The last dish that is a must have for me at vegetarian restaurants is the stir fried noodles with mixed vegetables ($13.99) or loa hong giy noodles in Cantonese. Lotus takes the time to properly toast the egg noodles so there are plenty of crunchy pieces to contrast against the saucy vegetables. The gravy was spot on and the vegetables cooked through but left with crunch. This was well worth the wait.

While visiting at lunch, expect a tea charge of $1.50 per person as they serve dim sum during this time. Indeed, dim sum seemed to be a popular choice for patrons, which may be why it was taking us extra long to get our order. Your meal could be sped up if you only order the gluten platter and mixed vegetable fried noodles, choosing the rest of the meal from their dim sum menu instead. Otherwise, channel your inner zen and just be patient. We can all use a mindful break from being hurried. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3838 Midland Avenue

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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