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Red Lotus, Auburn, WA (restaurant)

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Name:Red Lotus
Street:714 Auburn Way North

Not Tiki, the Red Lotus is a Chinese American restaurant with a highly decorated exotic interior which is completely unchanged since the restaurant was built in the 1960s.


First things first, the Red Lotus doesn't have a trace of Tiki in it.* But it is one of a very few intact Chinese American restaurants in the greater Seattle area which still have their exotic interiors. It's also the closest thing to a vintage Tiki joint in the greater Seattle area. So though it's not Tiki it definitely has the vintage exotica vibe.

The Red Lotus is windowless with a mostly dimly lit interior. There's extensive use of bamboo, lacquered wood, Chinese style light fixtures, and 1960s metallic wallpapers.

The lounge is called the Pagoda Room and though it has bamboo and lacquered wood it's not as interesting as the main dining areas. (And it has a lot of plastic beer banners around.) A better option is ordering drinks from the bar in the restaurant.

The quality of the drinks is typical working class bar level but the prices are good and the drinks are stiff. Years ago the Red Lotus used to serve four special house drinks in the classic white Chinese figure mugs. (One of their house specialty drinks was pretty good, the Confucius or Fu Man Chu, but they stopped serving it when they could no longer get Navy Grog mix from their supplier.)

The food at the Red Lotus is excellent Chinese American style food, I'd say it's well above the average of what you typically find in small town Chinese joints. Fresh vegetables are generally used in vegetable dishes. Their sweet-n-sour sauce is neon orange stuff from a five gallon bucket but my friends and I never order any dishes with it.)

The Red Lotus's version of General Tso's chicken (now apparently just called "The General's Chicken") is not the sweet and sour glop covered deep fried chicken chunks you find at most places. Their version is amazing spicy crispy drumettes which make hot wings taste like Chicken McNuggets.

Door detail

Register area.

Waiting area.

Waiting area.

Waiting area ceiling.

The most brightly lit of the three dining areas. This one is sort of the "lunch room."

Not frozen.

The Forbidden City dining room is a bamboo extravaganza.

The $6.50 lunch special.

A martini at lunch in a windowless restaurant is a beautiful thing.

*Well, they do serve a Mai Tai which most people here would frown about.


Wow, what a great place. Classic old school Chinese restaurants are becoming as scarce as original old school tiki restaurants.

Nice find !


[ Edited by: tikiyaki 2010-09-09 15:28 ]

S'cuse me resurrecting an older thread, but thanks Woofmutt for pointing me here! This and Louie's Cuisine of China in Ballard are now my favorite Chinese restaurants! Both have good food (think 1970s Americanized Chinese) and the Red Lotus makes some potent drinks! I think they have a cocktail list with some semi-tiki drinks, I ordered something like a Mai Tai or Fogcutter and (I forget which, because) it was POTENT. Tasty but strong. In both places, poke around the back rooms a bit - Red Lotus has some beautiful over-the-top decor especially in the back rooms, and Louie's has funktastic modern 70s lounge decor with awesome light fixtures and an amazing ceiling fan in the skylight of the far back rental dining room.

If you want to see the polar opposite, check out the Dragon Pearl in Burien. The restaurant often closes early and the little Chinese owner sleeps in one of the booths; she scared the daylights out of me when I walked back to look around and she just popped up! The place's get-up-and-go got up and went, about twenty years ago. Some neat decor, and teacups and placemats with packaged chopsticks sitting on the tables (well, those that aren't covered in papers or junk) like they're waiting for the lunch rush. Light fixtures are sad and broken - I touched one and it literally fell apart, the plastic rotted and crumbly from years of fossil nicotine build-up. I'm told they do still serve food, but...would you really want to try it? The bar area has a cool wooden bar (think "13 Coins) but some unfriendly patrons - call 'em "interesting characters", maybe - the night I walked in, one of the guys drinking said loudly, "Who the fk are these aholes!?" and the tender told him to calm down. I went back another night and found a friendly female bartender, nicer patrons and strong, basic drinks. Oh, and do NOT go near the mens' room unless you hold your nose. A must-see if you, like me, love looking at old almost-abandoned places; it's difficult to explore the dining room in this place and know it's still (sometimes) open for business!

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