Restaurant of the Week: Lotus Cafe

Lotus Cafe, 9775 Base Line Road (at Archibald), Rancho Cucamonga; open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily except closed Tuesday

The 99 Ranch Center at Base Line and Archibald in Rancho Cucamonga is home to several Asian eateries: Min’s Dumpling House, Red Chili House, a boba shop, Myung Dong Tofu House and the food court inside the 99 Ranch market. Connected to the market but with a separate entrance is the small Lotus Cafe, where two friends and I had lunch recently.

It’s a modest place, and they offer steam table basics for quick service, but they also have an extensive menu. Not Min’s-extensive, with 100-plus items, but there’s dozens to choose from. Reviewer David Cohen says the cuisine is from northern China.

We got pan-fried dumplings ($8, top), a beef roll, kung pao chicken, fried lamb with cumin (above) and a unique item, the Chinese burger ($3.45, below), which based on the name we simply had to order. (Amid the conversation I didn’t get prices scrawled down for the other items before the menus were taken away.)

The Chinese burger was ground pork inside a rice bun with cilantro and grilled onions, and very tasty. It might not be dissimilar to a Maid-Rite sandwich. In descending order, we ranked our items this way: dumplings, lamb, burger, beef roll and kung pao. And there was nothing wrong with the kung pao, except that the peanuts were on the side, which bothered the guy who ordered it. He ate them by hand, like bar snacks.

The only problem with the meal was that the beef roll (above) arrived about 45 minutes after everything else. The server updated us a couple of times on its progress. Not sure what the issue was there; it’s possible they had to buy an ingredient at the market. Thankfully we weren’t in a hurry, although we also weren’t hungry anymore by the time we got it. Not that that stopped us from eating most of it.

“I like Min’s better,” said the guy who had been there before, “but for a little place inside a grocery store, it’s good.” The other two of us agreed.

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  • OriginalPechanga

    Excellent restaurant we liked it a lot we also liked the red chili house next door where I had frog with lotus root not frogs leg but frog

    • Another commenter

      Red Chilli House is the real deal. Love potatoes with vinegar and eggs and tomatoes for ordinary cuisine but a little unusual for a restaurant.

  • Bob House

    Some west coasters may not know that the midwestern Maid-Rite or generically, Loose Meat, sandwich is ground meat between buns. Not a patty, “loose.” How about filling us in on the regional chains you grew up with in the Midwest? Compare and contrast and so forth. Also, I’m taking Red Chili House as my hip-hop name.

    • davidallen909

      Word, RCH.

      My mom knows all about Maid-Rite, but I’ve never had it. The chain died out years ago but has been revived with one or two locations.

      Let’s see, I remember Dog ‘n Suds, a defunct chain that had hot dogs and root beer. Dairy Queens are more common there and most have burgers, onion rings, etc., not just ice cream or microwaved food like out here. Good stuff. My brother met his wife while working there.

      White Castle is popular, with its slider-like burgers. Love that chain. Steak ‘n’ Shake is great too, more of a sitdown experience, with real plates. (There’s one in Burbank, but the chain hasn’t made serious inroads in California.)

      Taco John’s was probably the first or second Mexican food I had. It was weak, but what are you going to do?

      I’m probably forgetting one or two, but those come to mind.

  • Mimi Love

    This is such a rude review. I think that your time has passed, and your reviews are not professional at all. Your head is getting way too big. Humble yourself a bit. You sound like a whiney yelper.

    • davidallen909

      Really? It’s a positive review.