Sun-Thu, 5pm-11:30pm; Fri-Sat, 5pm-1:30am
1, 2, 3 at Chambers St.; A, C at Chambers St.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
As aficionados of regional Chinese food spots know, you generally don’t come for the atmosphere. So Lotus Blue’s upscale surroundings (high ceilings strung with decorative lanterns, brick walls) come as a surprise: this isn’t your average Flushing dive. The food isn’t typical, either; only a handful of places in the city serve Yunnanese food (although this fare is “Yunnan-influenced,” the owners say), which hails from the southwest corner of China and displays a decidedly tropical bent. This is evident in a salad of mango and lotus blossoms, amped up considerably by bird’s-eye chili, though sadly the mango on a recent visit wasn’t very sweet and juicy. Yunnan is known for its many varieties of mushrooms, and a tempura fry shows off several: delicious, salty, and spicy, with basil garnish. Skip the pork meatballs, which are gummy and arrive in a dark salty sauce akin to Swedish meatballs’. Better to save your taste buds for the delicate hot pot chicken, which needs a little salt; once it got a shake, its deliciously delicate gingery flavors emerged. Also, don’t miss the charred prawns with candied olives or a tasty fried rice with ground pork and cubes of turnip. As a nice touch, the place is upmarket enough that they’ll happily change your plates and silverware between courses. For dessert, if you dare, try the puffs filled with durian, a fruit so pungent it’s banned from public transit in its native Southeast Asia.
Tempura-fried mushrooms with basil and mint,$9; stir-fried tiger prawns with candied olives, $26; steam pot chicken, $22; ground pork and pickled turnip fried rice, $12