341/343 King St
Newtown, NSW 2042
Sydney’s vegan scene is the bomb. Not only is there a wide variety with something for every occasion, they also really make the effort to get the food to taste genuinely good, as opposed just ‘good for what it is’. Even my token vegan foodie friend (yo Jillian!) agrees that the vegan food around here is rather special, and if that’s not high praise, I don’t know what is.
One of the most popular casual vegan restaurants around Sydney is Golden Lotus Vegan, which serves up animal-free Vietnamese cuisine, with just a smidge of Thai and Chinese thrown in. Normally I’d avoid places like this, as I usually find the food to be overpriced and uninspired. But of course, Sydney is a whole different ballpark, and after an encouraging experience at the similarly-styled Vina Vegan down the road, I was keen to give Golden Lotus a try.
Given the extensive outdoor seating, I had expected Golden Lotus to be much bigger than it actually was. Instead of the dining-hall-like experience hinted at in the reviews I’d read, I found myself in a rather cosy, rather homely, and rather delicious-smelling space. The subpar service cited in some reviews was also missing; our waiter was friendly and enthusiastic, which definitely added to the welcoming atmosphere.
I lured Chris here with the promise of Combination Laksa ($14.8), which I’ve read is every bit as good as it’s meat-based counterpart. Indeed, the aromatic broth puts many laksas I’ve had to shame, the medley of spices deep and aromatic, mellowed by just the right amount of sweet creaminess from the coconut milk.
You don’t miss the meat either; the melange of soy-based toppings offer up plenty of hearty texture, with the crispy ‘skin’ on the chunky pieces of mock chicken being an especial highlight. The only shortcoming was the noodles; being egg-free, they just don’t have that satisfying texture you normally get, and were definitely more soggy than al dente. But even despite that, this was still one of the best laksas I’ve had in a while. Of course, it can’t quite compete with the best-of-the-best traditional laksas, but it certainly comes impressively close.
Another tasty dish was the Stir Fried Tofu with Chilli Basil Leaves ($17.8). Though lacking the spiciness of the authentic Thai alternative, there was an umami, flavour-laden sauce that soaked into the fried tofu, and plenty of beautifully crisp veggies. Served with a bowl of Jasmine Rice ($2.8), this was some serious feel-good comfort food.
I had heard good things about Golden Lotus Vegan before, but it still managed to exceed my expectations. I can’t quite put my finger on why I was so impressed by it; maybe the combination of good service, good smells, and good food just came together perfectly for me that night. At any rate, it’s a must-go if you’re vegetarian or vegan, and even if you’re an omnivore like me, it’s still definitely very much worth a visit.
Rating: 13.5/20 – golden child.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.