Thursday, October 2, 2014

Lotus Cafe's daily staff meal: Simple, quick and a minimum of talk

The staff meal at Lotus Cafe in Hackensack today included platters of simply fried fish, above, and baby bok choy, below. Cooks and servers also ate white rice and some had soup, but kitchen and dining room employees sit at separate tables.


The multi-course, price-fixed Chinese dinners and lavish banquets served at Lotus Cafe in Hackensack are strictly for well-heeled customers.

When the 15 cooks, servers and other employees sit down for a daily staff meal, the food is simple, and it's eaten quickly with a minimum of talk.

The meal begins at about 2:45 in the afternoon, and lasts only 10 to 20 minutes. Cooks and servers sit separately at tables in the back of the dining room.

The restaurant stays open during the staff meal, and I saw a table or two occupied by customers.

The cooks and dining room staff begin and end their 11- and 12-hour days in a 15-seat van driven by one of the waiters on the commute from Queens to the Home Depot Shopping Center in Hackensack, and back.

Chef Da preparing a dish of Chicken and Broccoli for me before I told him I no longer eat meat or poultry. But the food didn't go to waste. The staff shared it.

Chicken and Broccoli is a Chinese dish you will find only in America.

Next time I go to Lotus Cafe I will ask for a platter of fried fish, like the one served at today's staff meal.

One of the employees had a spicy noodle soup at the staff meal.

Portions are modest.

Lotus Cafe, 450 Hackensack Ave., in the Home Depot Shopping Center, Hackensack; 201-488-7070.

Open 7 days for lunch and dinner, BYO, large parking lot. Delivery ($12 minimum) within 3 miles. Reservations recommended on weekends.

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