Authentic Thai food downtown
By Brian P. Sharp
Photo: Panang curry with white rice at White Lotus
How many times have you passed the White Lotus – previously known as White Tower restaurant, and still sporting the Yummy Burger sign from its last incarnation – at the northeast corner of Patterson Boulevard and Third Street and wondered, “Hmmm, I wonder what the food is like there?”
I learned long ago that many times it is not about fancy buildings, a fresh sushi bar, décor or award-winning chefs. Sometimes it’s just about great food. White Lotus is that kind of place. Not much has changed of the building over the years since it was White Tower. Simple counter seating right by the cooking and prep area or situated at a window, you are not far from the action. Touted as Thai and American cuisine – they offer hand-formed burgers for those with less discriminating taste – this is a one man, or actually woman, show.
You almost feel as if you have just walked into her kitchen. No food is sitting half prepared in warming trays. This chef cooks to order, using pots and pans just like home. Why not? She is only cooking for you, or at least that’s what it seems. The owner is no stranger to cooking and catering – she has been at it for more than 30 years. It was funny – while I was there someone was waiting on a carry out order, another couple was still looking over the menu and calls came in for another take out order. I was thinking, “How is this one woman keeping it all straight?” No worries – if you were the third person in, your order will be third, simple as that. What I want to stress here is this is not fast food. It may take a bit longer, but your food is being made to order. It is well worth the wait.
This place is no joke. Spring rolls are fresh, light and crispy served with homemade sweet and sour sauce – not dished out of some GFS can and sitting out in a holder all hours of the day and night. Another appetizer is chicken or pork satay – three skewers of marinated and deep fried chicken or pork served with homemade peanut sauce, not coated in it. There is also soup available – Coconut and Tum Yum (Hot & Sour). All of the appetizers range in price from $1.50 for one spring roll to $4.95 for the chicken or pork satay.
Entrees include things like Pad Thai with chicken, tofu or shrimp served with rice noodles, vegetables, eggs and peanuts in homemade Thai sauce all for $7.95 to $8.95. There are also traditional curries, all served with steamed rice for $7.95; Red curry made with chicken, coconut milk, sweet basil, bamboo shoots and red and green peppers; Yellow curry made with chicken, vegetables and coconut milk; Green curry made with chicken and coconut milk; and Mussaman curry made with chicken, coconut milk, potato and peanuts. I chose Panang curry, which is traditionally served without vegetables, but the owner said everyone needs vegetables, so she put them in. My friend had Pad Thai with tofu. Delicious!
For the non-Asian diners there are hand-formed burgers, a fish filet sandwich and even a pork tenderloin sandwich. This menu has meals that range in price from $4.95 for a burger – fries are $1 extra – up to $8.95 for a Thai meal. There is something for everyone on this menu. She even has Thai iced tea and coffee.
This is the perfect place to stop before a Dayton Dragons game or a night of theater – No frills, but a delicious meal. Who needs the other “Thai” restaurant just blocks away? White Lotus is real Thai food prepared to order like you made it yourself, but better!
Who wants to join me for some Thai honey chicken?
White Lotus is located at 327 E. Third St. Open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call 937.222.7030.
Reach DCP food critic Brian P. Sharp at BrianSharp@DaytonCityPaper.com.