First to arrive at your table is a deep bowl filled with rice noodles, chicken, shrimp, pork, and edible blossoms (sometimes Lotus Blue skips the flowers).
As far as I can tell, crossing-the-bridge noodles has never appeared on a New York menu before. This specialty of China’s Yunnan province features hot broth topped with a thick layer of oil, which keeps it piping hot until other ingredients including rice noodles are added raw, so that they cook as you eat the soup. This week’s Counter Culture review recounts the fable behind the dish – which involves a disgruntled scholar and his patient wife – and explains why the version served at Lotus Blue is perhaps less than optimal. Try it and decide for yourself. Otherwise, you’ll have to go to Yunnan.
Next, a plate appears with (from top left going clockwise) cucumbers, pickled greens, enoki mushrooms, carrots, sprouts, and, in the middle, spice-rubbed pressed tofu.
An unseen hand pours broth way too bland into the noodles.
The add-ins are then swept into the bowl, either indivdually or all at the same time.
What Lotus Blue’s version really needs is a much richer broth, a little soy, and gallons of chile oil!