The Red Lantern Chinese restaurant is open at 546 5th Ave. S., in Edmonds next to the IGA. The outside visual of cheerful red lanterns is enhanced when one opens the door to enter. The serene fountain is inviting, the display is beautiful. This establishment has taken ownership of the previous space and transports those who enter to a lovely Chinese garden, where wonderful food awaits.
We were seated at the last open table. Brisk and busy right from the opening, Red Lantern’s off to a great start.
Our first item order arrived: perfect-size bowls of soup. I chose the hot and sour, which was rich and spicy. The flavorful broth was packed with tofu, black cloud mushrooms and bamboo shoots. The egg flower soup, its rich yellow hue from the egg yolks and the tender strands of egg whites were a tasty way to begin the meal.
Dim sum research was the purpose of our visit, so we ordered all of the dim sum specials.
The green onion pancake arrived and, to our surprise, the plate contained a puffy pillow the size of a small puffer fish. I hated to poke a hole in this beauty, but, once I dipped a bite in the curry sauce, my mouth I was happy. It was tasty, beautiful, and totally worth the $3.95.
I could have stopped right there and gone home sated, but we proceeded to sample each item dim sum special menu.
Dumplings were delivered rapidly. The chef was efficient, in spite of the very large group. We later learned the group included the owner and his family, who had gathered to celebrate the opening of the restaurant. The kitchen kept hot dishes coming to our table as well as serving the other pack tables in the restaurant that evening.
Dim sum comes lightly fried and crispy, or steamed in bamboo baskets, delivered fresh to your table per your order, not from a roving cart. We enjoyed the vegetable pot stickers the best.
The meat in all of our items seemed to be ground pork. Wait staff is not as fluent in English, so my inquiries on ingredients and content, beyond the printed menu descriptions, were not complete. I would love to see more individual seafood like shrimp, offered on future visits.
The house special steamed bun for $2.95 is worth the extra wait. The huge bun arrives in its own special basket; a tender dumpling filled with ground seasoned pork.
Because of confusion in the kitchen with some of our dim sum order, and the extra long wait on the steamed bun, the kitchen sent out a plate of spare ribs. Wow. The meat was tender; the tomato sauce was spicy and sweet. We devoured the entire order in minutes. You’d have thought we’d not just eaten six orders of dim sum.
Desserts: Yes, we always find room for sweets at the end of the meal. The papaya, Tremella and Chinese date soup — a Guangdong Province Chinese traditional dish — was sweet but not a satisfying finish to our meal. We did enjoy the crispy and chewy sesame balls.
Many plates containing colorful entrees delivered to tables nearby looked tempting. I will make another visit soon, at lunch. The price and size of these dishes will allow me to sample much more of Red Lantern’s extensive menu.
Red Lantern is open daily. They serve dim sum all day, every day. Hours are Monday-Thursday 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m. Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
More news in the Food World
And the winner is: Several of our Northwest producers made it to the finals of Fancy Food world. For the uninitiated, NASFT (National Association of Specialty Food Trade) holds the epicurean version of the Academy Awards every summer. They hand out trophies reminiscent of Oscars, called SOFIS, to the creators of culinary delights, in an assortment of categories. See their web page, but be warned, I gained about five pounds just looking.
Appetizers: Mama Lil’s Hungarian Goathorn Peppers took home a Silver SOFI this year- the Pacific Northwest’s most well-loved regional delicacies. A hint of maple syrup in the brine gives these fruity, tangy and crunchy peppers a pleasant sweetness.
Condiments: King’s Cupboard, Northwest producer, won Gold! Technically they’re in Montana, but products are sold throughout the area. This Non-GMO Salted Caramelized Fig Spread is a combination of fig & caramelized cane sugar is blended with organic dairy & reduced for many hours to achieve an innovative spread that is fabulous over crackers & cheese, as a drizzle for rustic pizza or on meats
Confections: Moonstruck Chocolate in Portland, Ore. was awarded a Silver SOFI for their adorable Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter Truffles. The BB Porter reduction, blended with dark and milk chocolate ganache, fills a dark chocolate shell and is topped with an edible dark chocolate “beer cap” printed with Deschutes’ logo. The flavors of light hops and roasted chocolate pair with Parma ham, prosciutto, or aged cheddar.
Restaurant News will host her 12-year-old granddaughter next month. The plan: Take a ride on Amtrak, to Tacoma and visit the Museum of Glass. Across the street there are many, many restaurants. Details on cuisine will follow, in a future column.
A specialty gourmet food broker for over 30 years, Kathy Passage has in-depth knowledge on food and the special qualities of ingredients used in the exquisite products she helped bring to market. Kathy brings this unique perspective from the “other side of the plate” to writing about the food and restaurant scene in Edmonds.