Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Catching great seafood at Lotus Cafe, Marseille

Steamed to perfection with ginger and scallion, a 2-pound-plus striped bass makes waves at Lotus Cafe, a BYO in Hackensack where the phrase "Chinese cuisine" is no exaggeration. At $27.95, this Catch of The Day is a bargain, compared to restaurants in Ridgewood and Englewood that charge as much for a 1-pounder.

A steaming bowl of Seafood Soup for 3 ($10.95) started our meal on Saturday night.

Lucky for me, my wife didn't want any of the scallops, which she added to my portion of tender shrimp, squid and fish cake.

By Victor E. Sasson

Lotus Cafe in Hackensack has a fascinating menu drawn from Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China.

So I'm always amazed when I hear a customer at another table ordering fried rice, spare ribs, egg foo young and other time-worn Cantonese standards.

Lotus Cafe also offers price-fixed, multicourse dinners filled with the restaurant's specialties for 4 to 12 people that are a relative bargain.

On Saturday, three of use cast our net for a filling dinner of seafood, vegetables and brown rice, and we took home plenty of leftovers.

Stir-fried Spinach with Garlic uses water spinach ($9.95).

Sauteed Chinese Star Squash ($9.95).

There is no extra charge for brown rice.

The BYO serves unlimited tea. Opening the lid of your pot is a sign to the waiter that you want a refill of hot tea.

We took home rice, vegetables and about a third of the striped bass. I had the rice and vegetables with a homemade frittata the next morning, and the fish for dinner.

The unassuming restaurant is in the Home Depot Shopping Center, 450 Hackensack Ave., Hackensack; 201-488-7070. Open 7 days. Free delivery within 3 miles, $12 minimum.

At Marseille Restaurant

I don't remember much about the bouillabaisse I enjoyed 30 years ago in the French port city of Marseille, where the fisherman's stew originates, except that the restaurant was on the waterfront.

Last week in Manhattan, we were looking for a restaurant near the Little Shubert Theater on 42nd Street, and a friend suggested Marseille at 9th Avenue and 44th Street, only a couple of blocks away.

"Order the bouillabaisse," she said.

The bouillabaisse at Marseille, a restaurant at Ninth Avenue and 44th Street in Manhattan, near off-Broadway theaters, below.

Marseille is at 630 Ninth Ave. in Manhattan; 1-212-333-2323.

It was a wonderful, though expensive meal: Two entrees and two salads, plus a glass of red wine for me.

The bouillabaisse was filled with fish and shellfish in a saffron-accented broth made without cream ($28.50).My wife chose the short ribs ($24.50).

Our spinach and arugula salads were $12.75 and $10.75, respectively.

Service from the friendly staff was excellent.

Well-fed, we returned to 42nd Street for a great show, Dee Dee Bridgewater portraying Billie Holiday, the legendary jazz singer, in "Lady Day."

My wife raved about the short ribs served over creamy polenta.

Before the bouillabaisse, I had a simple arugula salad.

My wife also enjoyed her spinach salad with a top hat of sinfully rich goat cheese and a dressing of onions and bacon.

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