I often hear that there are not as many Chinese people in Zurich – sure there are many Chinese tourists every year, but if we are to compare Zurich with Milan for example, there are not as many Chinese residents in Zurich. So what are the consequences? One could be that Zurich doesn’t have very much to offer when it comes to Chinese food. That might have been the case ten years ago – but now, a lot has changed.
Today I am going to introduce a restaurant that I discovered thanks to my colleague Maya (https://queen-t.ch/). This restaurant has just recently changed ownership. And I must say that I am very impressed by what the new Taiwanese owner offers.
THE LOTUS GARDEN
My first impression of this restaurant? Small, the restaurant is well hidden in the outskirts of Zurich. No exaggerated fanciness or colourful banners, Lotus Garden is very cozy and welcoming. When I entered, I immediately heard some Chinese songs in the background, which I recognized from my childhood. How nostalgic!
It was in a way very pleasing that the waitress spoke to me in Chinese. She was friendly and she really does care about the customers. What should I say? A cozy restaurant with friendly service personal, there is nothing better than that.
Alright let’s move on to my favorite part: The food! At the beginning I was skeptical since I kind of knew that Chinese restaurants in Zurich adapt their dishes to local tastes, but I was surprised! The chef of Lotus Garden comes from Jiangsu province in China and I could feel his passion for cooking. If it comes to Chinese food, first of all the presentation has to be appealing. Then, very naturally, comes the scent and ultimately, the taste follows. And this chef really cooks passionately. Something worth mentioning is that Lotus Garden doesn’t use glutamate for cooking at all. Everything is authentically prepared and it’s about dedication and skills of the head chef.
The pancakes (葱油饼) were nicely presented in a mouthwatering way and its taste was simply delicious! The surface was fried to a superb crispiness and the inside was fluffy. Already a very good start.
Next we have the seaweed salad (凉拌海带)! In Asia, people eat seaweed salad more or less the same way with small differences: the Japanese for example eat their seaweed raw with sauces and spices while the Chinese people slightly boil the seaweed before adding sauces. I don’t really have a preference here so I enjoyed this dish a lot. They added a special sauce to the seaweed, which is spicy and sweet at the same time. It perfectly balanced out the blandness of the seaweed and gave this dish an unique flavor. If you don’t eat spicy things, you can always order a mild version of this dish.
The «dry pan chicken» (干锅鸡) is one of the signature dishes at Lotus Garden. This dish originates from Sichuan province in China and it’s known for its spiciness. I have to give this dish a special credit, because it’s not just super spicy in a way that you can’t taste anything else anymore. The spiciness is rather integrated into the dish and is highlighting the chicken, the cauliflower and the lotus root even more. It’s literally like a flavor bomb exploding in your mouth! On top of that, the dry pan chicken really matches the white rice. You won’t even notice how much rice you are eating!
If you think I am done at this point, then you are terribly mistaken! The best is yet to come: The hotpot! (火锅). Hotpot has been a traditional Chinese dish for a very long time. If you want to know more about hotpot, then check out Zurich Chinatown’s story «Hotpot – More than Fondue Chinoise».
For those who knew hotpot before, I can’t say more than to go there and just give it a try! They serve freshly made chicken stock everyday and it tastes amazing. In addition to that, they also offer miso stock, fungus stock and other varieties.
The meat! Very important and for me a must have in any hotpot! The Chinese add any kind of meat to the boiling pot: beef, port, chicken, lamb and in some regions even dog meat (yes, I know, it‘s not too popular in the West).
Well, as probably any loving mother would say: eat your veggies! Yes, vegetables are an essential part of the hotpot, especially since Chinese people count mushrooms as vegetable. Depending on how long you boil the veggies in the pot, your daily healthy portion will either by crispy and fresh or soft and rich in flavor.
Once your favorite ingredient is cookes, you dip it in one of the delicious sauces. There is no «original» sauce, you can mix and match as you like. Soy sauce, fresh chili, pressed garlic and coriander are the condiments most often used.
First of all: I had a great time in Lotus Garden! The service was very friendly, the food was great and what truly impressed me was the price. The hotpot for example – with all the ingredients shown on the pictures above – could easily feed four people. A good value for the price. Normally, the Chinese restaurants in Zurich charge a very high price for their dishes and the portions are rather small. In Lotus Garden that is not the case. The head chef stands for quality and he told me that his dream is never to let down any customer. They should leave happily and satisfied.
I am pretty surprised myself while editing this review that I actually don’t have any negative points about this restaurant, at least not so far. Lotus Garden offers great food at a reasonable price and its atmosphere is simply great! There will be more stories about Lotus Garden, since it became one of my favorite Chinese restaurant here in Zurich and I will be exploring more of its delicious food. So keep in touch with me!
Address: Waffenplatzstrasse 1, 8002 Zurich
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday: 11:00-14:00, 18:00-22:00 ¦ Sunday: Closed