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Lotus Mandarin Restaurant (Closed)

5928 N.W. 38th St.
Oklahoma City, OK   Warr Acres

Lotus Mandarin Restaurant in Warr Acres

In August 2013 I went to Lotus Mandarin for the first time since the latest ownership change. This is about the fourth change since I started going to Lotus Mandarin in the early 1980's, and previously the changes had all been pretty seamless with the food and the menu staying more or less constant. Because Lotus Mandarin has been one of my favorite restaurants all these years, I visited a number of times, tried a number of dishes, and settled on a few that were my favorites.

Another thing I really liked about the restaurant, especially with the most recent owners, was that I could make special requests asking for the food to be "Chinese style" (meaning mainly that the sauces were not as sweet as the "American" version). I am sure that when I developed my list of favorite dishes in the 1980's they were all Americanized versions, but I think they have been even better recently when I found out the cook could change them.

Lotus Mandarin has always specialized in spicy Szechuan and Hunan style dishes. I say this because for years it was the best restaurant in town for these dishes, while the non-spicy Cantonese dishes were rather lackluster (in my opinion, of course).

I set up this history about the restaurant because, in my opinion, all of this is now in doubt. I spoke to the chef, and he said he was trained by the previous owners about how to cook the food so that it would be the same as before. I think, though, that something was lost in the process because the food did not taste the same to me. I am not ready to say I do not want to return to Lotus Mandarin, but I think the difference is enough that I need to start the review from scratch as if it were a new restaurant.

I have made an Archived Review of the old restaurant, but I believe it is necessary to now completely update the current review and to start from scratch in describing the food. One reason is that now all the sauces are pre-prepared, and the staff told me that they could no longer prepare special requests such as the "Chinese version" of dishes I used to order (and this was the main reason I really enjoyed the restaurant). They can still honor requests for food to be cooked without MSG, but I was told the pre-made sauces contain a little bit of MSG, and this cannot be deleted.

Kung po chicken
Kung po chicken

Only a few of the former dishes from Lotus Mandarin are still on the menu, but one I had enjoyed before was Kung Po Chicken. The "new" version was very similar, but I would say had less chicken but more vegetables (especially carrots) than the old version. The dish was good enough that I ate most of it, but I thought the sauce was not quite the same as before. I always thought the kung pao was a little better at Dot Wo than at Lotus Mandarin, but now I would say there is an even wider gulf between the two restaurants.

Kung po chicken
Small serving of kung po chicken served at the "old" restaurant

I am including this older picture of the kung po chicken at Lotus Mandarin for comparison. The previous version did not have as many carrots, and it seemed to have more chicken and peanuts than the plate I had on my most recent visit. The biggest difference, though, was the fact that Lotus Mandarin used to serve half orders (such as the one pictured) that were perfect for lunch size.

My favorite dish from the "old" Lotus Mandarin, the Szechuan shredded pork, is no longer on the menu. It would not matter much, though, because with the restaurant being unwilling to customize the sauces this dish would not have the "Chinese flavor" I enjoyed before. I would not mind the streamlining of the menu the new owners have done if it resulted in a few dishes being very good, but from what I have tried the new food is not as good as before. The restaurant now has a buffet for lunch and a shortened list from the old menu as dinner items, so maybe this will work for the new owners (and hopefully it will).

The three restaurants that got me hooked on Chinese food in the 1980's were Edmond Mandarin, Hunan in Casady Square, and Lotus Mandarin. Two out of the three are long gone, and now I am wondering if the third has changed so much that I will not be able to enjoy it as I did in the past. I do hope, though, that Lotus Mandarin can continue to serve the type of food that has made them successful all these years.



Cuisine: Chinese
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily except Sat. lunch & Sun. dinner
Tea: Jasmine (bags)
MSG: Yes
Smoking: No Smoking
Buffet: Lunch Sun.-Fri.

Most Recent Visit
Aug. 23, 2013

Number of Visits: 1

Special Ratings
Kung Po Chicken: