Szechuan less vegan Chinese in Glasgow?

Illustration of lotus restaurant

Credit: The Glasgow Guardian / Selena Drake

Max Kelly
Sports Editor

Max Kelly reviews embattled Lotus Vegetarian Cuisine

Glasgow’s only vegan Chinese restaurant, Lotus, is located on Bridge Street in the city’s South Side and is owned by Eric Chan and Kwan Mui. It opened its doors in January this year, however it is already at risk of closure, unless the Home Office grants the owners more time to meet the requirements necessary for having their visas renewed.

Chan and Mui are currently in the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa category of the UK’s five-tier immigration system. This category involves creating and/or investing in a British-based business. The couple are looking to be granted a three-year extension from the Home Office, subject to meeting requirements, after which they could apply for settlement in the UK.

Unfortunately, they were unable to begin trading until January 2017, after an unforeseen delay due to reasons outwith their control. Due to this, they need more time to ensure that they can meet all the requirements for their visas to be renewed.

A petition to the Home Office that is aiming to help keep Lotus open gathered over 6,000 signatures in just one week. The petition, created by Michael Jenkins of Vegan Connections, states: “Eric Chan and his wife Kwan Mui are the owners of the already much-loved Glaswegian vegan restaurant, Lotus Vegetarian Cuisine. Since opening in January 2017 it has become a firm favourite amongst Glaswegians, vegans and non-vegans alike.

“For anyone who has visited Lotus, they will have experienced the kind and caring people behind the business. Eric and Kwan Mui have become dear friends to many of their regular customers and this is why we feel that in this time of need, we must lend a helping hand to this wonderful family and unique business.”

After reading stellar reviews of the restaurant, I was intrigued to try a new type of cuisine, hoping it would not be my first and last visit.

The restaurant, located just across the road from The Laurieston bar, is spacious and well-lit, with authentic Chinese décor which was very inviting on a cold November evening. I was greeted by Eric Chan who gave an accommodating welcome and I was swiftly given a table. The menu was extensive, with a plethora of exciting vegan options.

I opted for the vegan spring rolls as a starter. At a very reasonable £3.50 for four, the spring rolls were a fantastic start. Following this pleasant starter I settled upon a dry bean curd with vermicelli (thin Chinese rice noodles), with a side of stir-fried mixed vegetables. The curd was richly textured and flavoured as well as extremely filling, with vermicelli being a fantastic addition. The vegetable side was less inspiring but nevertheless was a good accompaniment to the main, however at £4.50, it would be best to try one of the more exciting side dishes.

At £16.90 for a starter, a main and a side it may not be ideal for regular visits on a student budget, but with very generously sized mains – most priced at around eight or nine pounds – it is very well-suited if you decide to treat yourself. The restaurant perhaps does rely too much on meat substitute based meals and if you are looking for a more varied experience, this may not be your best bet. It is however, a good place for those hesitant to try vegan-cuisine to go, because you’re not thrown in the deep end.

The service in the restaurant was fantastic, and with the light-hearted, friendly nature of the staff you would be forgiven for forgetting the precarious position the restaurant is in. I waited no longer than 15 minutes for my food. From the welcoming owner to an attentive waiter, the staff helped produce a pleasant atmosphere throughout my experience.

Overall, Lotus Vegetarian Cuisine is extremely pleasant, welcoming, reasonably priced and is certainly unique. Eric Chan and his restaurant would certainly be missed if the Home Office were not to grant an extension, and they would be making a mistake that unfairly punishes Eric Chan and his business.

You can find the petition to help Eric and Kwan Mui on www.change.org/o/vegan_connections

You can add your support by signing the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/support-lotus-help-keep-scotland-s-only-fully-vegan-chinese-restaurant-open