Today a platoon of ten veteran and virgin MSG150 lunchers marched in to do battle once again with the noodles, soups, and noodle soups of Seattle's International District. Our mission was lunch at the alluring Red Lantern, the new, upscale tenant of the space that was previously occupied by Golden City. Although many of us mourn the passing of Golden City's $3.95 lunches we were all excited to discover what the Red Lantern has to offer.
Luncher: EmmettLunch: Cham-Pong Noodle - $11.95
Red Lantern "Contemporary Asian Cuisine" looks saucy and delicious like General Tso. They go with modern interiors, sexy hot red / black motif. They have sexy hot Stella Artois behind the bar. It's also well lit, the tables are comfortably sized, the chairs are sleek on my bottom.
You're going to like the corn tea the first time cause it tastes like corn on the cob was soaked in your tea. After a few visits it starts to get annoying cause it tastes like corn on the cob was soaked in your tea. No matter, it's still drinkable, and though I wish it were plain black it pairs nicely with spicy food. Like corn.
I had the super spicy Cham-Pong Noodle, which looked appetizing and was also a winner because it came first. There were quite a few shrimp, some tiny bay scallops and a couple of mussels, along with some greens, cabbage, and tasty noodles. This was a spicy soup, and it didn't need any extra hotness. I enjoyed it nonetheless; though it would have been a better choice for a chilly January day, it works well on a chilly June day.
I also had bites of Adam's Kimchi Fried Rice, and Geary's Chow Mein. Alex's Garlic Beef also delivered.
This place hurts your pocket book somewhat as they charge quite a bit more than the neighbors. Now closed Noodle King was a block away and served the same dish a full three dollars cheaper. It stings a bit when bargains are available so close nearby. I'll definitely come back but won't put it full-on in the lunch rotation.
Luncher: AdamLunch: Red Kimchi Beef Fried Rice - $6.95
The Red Lantern is to Golden City as butterflies are to caterpillars. Red Lantern has been beautifully remodeled and has a very nice modern feel to it. Golden City was a great little restaurant with a little more 80's feel to it. I'm going to throw this out there though: Golden City fit better with my budget and tastes.
The food at Red Lantern is good. I had the Red Kimchi Beef Fried Rice, which had some great flavors sprinkled throughout. My pile of red-colored rice came in a large pile on the plate with a very nice looking fried egg on top, and lots of beef and kimchi sprinkled throughout. I enjoyed the meal, and even took a box for leftovers. As I was approaching my "must stop eating line," I noticed I was applying increasing amounts of hot-sauce to keep myself interested in the dish. I don't know if that means the rice was lacking something, or if I just like really spicy food. I tend to avoid introspection.
One very nice benefit, was that the server offered to split the check. This is a big benefit if your group of coworkers/friends do not go out for lunch together frequently... because none of you will have cash. Overall, a decent experience with decent food.
Luncher: GearyLunch: Beef Chow Fun - $7.95
Unlike many of the other ID family restaurants, the Red Lantern has an upscale, modern decor. They are also one of the few restaurants in the ID with beer on tap, although they only have Stella. We arrived early and the place was almost empty. The waitress and owner were friendly and welcoming.
The roasted corn tea was completely new to me. It had a pleasant nutty taste. Although, can you really just soak anything in water and call it tea? Who's makes the tea rules? Let me know so I can report this place.
The menu is heavy on Americanized Chinese lunch classics but there are a few items that appear more authentic. I skipped the Thai Rice Noodle (Phad Thai?) and chose the ever popular Beef Chow Fun. The H&SS was nice and pungent. B+. The Chow Fun was a slightly above average version of the classic dish with wide rice noodles, tender well seasoned beef, crisp spouts, green onions, and a healthy coating of oil. I enjoyed bites of other's dishes and the quality seemed good overall.
The Red Lantern is a nice place with friendly service and beer on tap. It would make a good setting for a business lunch or lunch date. However, the price to value ratio is a bit too high for weekly lunches when there are better cheaper options near by.
Luncher: AlLunch: General Tso's Chicken - $7.95
Best General Tso’s in the ID, but pricey for lunch. 3 chopsticks.
Luncher: RobLunch: Kong Pao Tofu - $6.95
Yay! The MSG150 train is rolling again! Glad I was able to be there for the reboot. I had just returned from six weeks in Europe, where I avoided almost all Asian cuisine, aside from some Indonesian in the Netherlands, and was looking forward to lunch in the ID. So while I was sorry to find out Golden City had closed (quite some time ago, apparently), I was interested in finding out how Red Lantern was doing in its place. The interior was definitely spiffed up, and the lunch menu included a couple tofu dishes, including kong pao tofu. My last attempt at the kung pao tofu didn't work out well, but since it was on the menu here I had higher hopes. The H&SS was very decent, with black pepper added, which I thought added a fine complementary kick. The kong pao was nicely presented, the flavor was pretty good, the sauce not too starchy, and the hot peppers easy to pick out. Not too spicy, but that was okay. Felt pretty full at the end, too. So yeah, it was all right. I'd go back if other people are going.
Luncher: YanqingLunch: Red Kimchi Beef Fried Rice - $6.95
What I had was OK comparing to the other Chinese food in the International District. But, I have fairly high standards in terms of Chinese food because that’s what I eat every day. The lunch menu selection is boring. The only positive thing I have to say is the atmosphere is good against the competition in this area.
Luncher: AlexLunch: Garlic Beef - $7.95
The lunch menu was mostly American-style Chinese food. I ordered the garlic beef lunch special which came with a bowl of sweet and sour soup. While ordering we were served a corn-flavored tea. I found it very pleasant and really enjoyed it. This was a nice change from the traditional jasmine tea.
Next came a bowl of hot and sour soup. The broth was pleasingly thick and the julienned veggies were plentiful and cooked just right. The flavor was surprisingly weak. I really had to search to find the distinctive flavor that is typical of hot and sour soup.
The garlic beef came out next. Nice quality strips of meat served on a bed of strips of lettuce. The sauce was not too thick and you could see and taste the little chunks of garlic and other seasonings. It was very tasty without being overpowering. No fortune cookies were served but I won't hold it against them.
The restaurant itself was nice, with simple and modern decor. Our waitress was very nice and took good care of us.
Luncher: MarkLunch: Yushan Tofu - $6.95
Lunch began with a slightly clever but mostly uninspiring corn tea, all the corniness of a corn chowder without the tasty chowderyness. The soup was well spiced and nicely gooey. My meal, the Yushan Tofu, was mildly spicy and relatively sweet, with broccoli cooked to a good medium level of softness. My water glass was never more than half empty before getting filled again, but we were a big party and the place was mostly empty, so that is not particularly surprising.
Luncher: MariyaLunch: Red Lantern Green (Vegetables) - $6.95
Good selection of veggies and fairly tasty even though the dish is not spicy. Pricey for what it is.
Luncher: KenLunch: Ja-Jang Noodle - $11.95
Red Lantern PhotosRed Lantern
Red Lantern Menu
Cham-Pong Noodle sides
Beef Chow Fun
Kong Pao Tofu
Red Kimchi Beef Fried Rice
General Tso's Chicken
Red Lantern Green (Vegetables)