Since living in San Jose and working in the Sabana area, I have frequented many times, the Flor de Loto Chinese restaurant just South of the Subway in La Sabana Norte. The front of the building isn’t much to look at, with its dingy sign and lack of parking, but it’s what’s inside that counts. Upon walking in you’ll notice the ornately textured ceilings, pleasant wait staff and amazing food.
I haven’t quite figured out why you are given behemoth-sized rolls to start and a teeny-tiny spot of butter to go with it, but all you need to do is ask for the ‘salsa picante’ and they’ll bring an unforgettable oil and chili pepper mixture that is great with the bread and all your food. I always start with the ‘Chinese Tacos’, which are essentially egg rolls. Again, great with salsa picante to mix with the sweet and sour sauce that accompanies them.
Next up, I recommend the chicken curry or any of the noodle/rice dishes, but I have been advised to stay away from the ‘crispy rice’. I was told it is much like Rice Krispies, so if you’re up for an adventure, go for it. But consider yourself warned.
On the occasion of wanting light fare, I have also had the wanton soup thinking it would be less of a meal, but it was hardly that. They give you a very healthy portion and the flavor is amazing. So, if you’re thinking soup first and then a main dish, maybe find someone you don’t mind sharing with.
One notably strange difference in the Chinese food in Costa Rica, is that they are likely to serve French fries in the dish or on top. So, that chicken curry has a few mixed in and some of the other dishes have 5 or 6 fries thrown on top. I haven’t asked the reason or background on this, but it can’t be a Chinese custom. It’s strangely delicious, so don’t let it throw you off.
The prices are fair. Certainly not cheap on the Tico scale, but you can get lunch with a Coke or tea for about $7-10 per person. Flor de Loto definitely leaves you wanting to come back, and I often do. Especially as I have visited other Chinese places that left a lot to be desired (eg. Mil Sabores, or as my husband and I call it, Nil Sabores) and the prices were around the same. It’s worth the trip into Sabana if you are staying at the airport or living in Escazú.
Author’s Note: This is the first article of many to come that will form part of my regular food column on Costa Rica Pages, “Costa Rica foodie”. I will be highlighting the best restaurants around the country, where to shop to find the food you want, Tico-style recipes, and any other food tidbits I discover along the way with a focus on economical options.
My husband and I moved to Costa Rica this year and have found it difficult to find a solid variety of reasonably priced restaurants, food markets, grocery stores or Tico food recipes. Or the appropriate resources to guide us. I like to cook and eat creatively but don’t want to lose my shirt to do so.
We thought by moving to Costa Rica that our food costs would go way down, but it has turned out to be trickier than expected. I have made it my mission to discover and document my explorations to help travelers and ex-pats find the best ways to fill their stomachs, without breaking the bank.
I am most enthusiastic about finding the hidden gems off the beaten path. Finding these places is as easy as listening to the locals and seasoned travelers for the best meals for your money. They can always lead you to more than just the places in the Lonely Planet or found by searching the Internet.
For additional information about cheap food in Costa Rica, visit my blog at www.cheapfoodhere.com or find me on FoodBuzz.com. I can’t wait to share with you!
|Written by Ashley Blevins|
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Filed under: Living on April 27th, 2009