Slideshow: Lotus Blue in Tribeca: Pricey Modern Yunnan Fare

Fried red snapper ($25)
Fried red snapper ($25)
While it came splashed in an uninspired chili sweet and sour sauce, the fish itself was fried well—boned, scored into bite-sized bits, and fried to a crisp crust, the firm white flesh steaming and moist.
Yunnan crisp fried mushrooms ($9)
Yunnan crisp fried mushrooms ($9)
The one dish I'd consider going back for, a tangle of slim mushrooms, some of which were only sheathed in a thin tempura-like batter, some of which were nets of not much more than fry. But everything was crisply fried and well-seasoned with salt and specks of red chili, down to the leaves of fried basil. It'd be a welcome snack on any bar menu in town. 
The Drinks
The Drinks
We genuinely enjoyed a peppercorn blossom ($12; $6 when we tried it), a Negroni of sorts with Sichuan peppercorn-infused gin. Not just a novelty, the Sichuan peppercorns added a camphorous aroma and pleasing tingle, and the drink as a whole was clean and well-balanced. (Sadly, a red sangria made with pu-erh infused vodka evidenced very little of that flavor, and simply tasted like a sweet sangria.) 
Three delights cross-bridge noodles ($18)
Three delights cross-bridge noodles ($18)
No real flavor other than a slick of what seemed to be chicken fat floating atop the broth: rice noodles were limp with no bite, pork and chicken slices were so dry as to be hard to swallow. 
Stir-fried smoked pressed tofu ($16)
Stir-fried smoked pressed tofu ($16)
Quite flavorful, with a pleasant, mild smokiness that played well against garlic chive blossoms and slices of pineapple that provided a burst of sweetness. 
Spicy chrysanthemum greens salad ($7)
Spicy chrysanthemum greens salad ($7)
Not particularly spicy, with a dressing that didn't speak strongly of any ingredient in the "spicy garlic and Chinese black vinegar dressing" advertised on the menu, but it's hard to complain about a bowl of those slightly peppery greens.
Pu-erh tea flavored beef shank and quail eggs ($9)
Pu-erh tea flavored beef shank and quail eggs ($9)
Another dish that underdelivered on promised flavors; the beef strips were reasonably tender but with no discernible tea flavor; ditto the quail eggs, clearly stained but simply salty in taste.
Steamed pork belly with imported Yunnan candied plums ($20)
Steamed pork belly with imported Yunnan candied plums ($20)
A sauce that seemed simply sweet without any of the plums' complexity or the meat's savory richness.
Yunnan Seared Buns ($3 for 2)
Yunnan Seared Buns ($3 for 2)
"Slightly sweet pan-seared bread with crispy crust," delivered in that sweetness only—the insides were doughy and greatly undercooked, the outsides tough rather than "crispy," and due to a total lack of salt, it was hard to find any flavor whatsoever in them.
Entrance
Entrance
Pork meatball sandwich ($9)
Pork meatball sandwich ($9)
Off the lunch menu. As elsewhere on the menu, the fried bits (shoestring potato fries, well-salted and strewn with fried herbs) were the best part. The pork, water chestnut, and shiitake mushroom meatballs were overcompacted and had the dull flavor of overcooked pork. An overly sweet sauce and dry, tough bun does them no favors.