Two major Charleston critics, Hanna Raskin (Post & Courier) and Allston McCrady (City Paper), inspected North Charleston newcomer Lotus Vietnamese Cuisine this week, and they both have similar experiences. The critics agree that, while Lotus may not be the most "authentic" Vietnamese experience, it is a comforting and flavorful experience.
[The food is] satisfying, soothing and maybe a little vague about its ethnic origins. The shaken beef, a sweetish wok concoction ornamented with sliced green peppers, tomatoes and onions, could easily pass as Thai or Mexican with the right rice or tortilla by its side. It’s also delicious, especially at the end of a work day, when you don’t need your heavily sauced meat challenging you. In other words, complaints about dishes not precisely replicating what you ate in Saigon or Houston are basically off-topic here.
... I can't claim to have explored the back country of central Vietnam's Highlands by motorbike as City Paper contributor Jeff Allen did this past year, or feasted on whole mackerel heads in alley markets, or charcoal roasted duck tongues self-served from a smoldering buffet alongside stuffed squid and tripe. ... Folks like Allen would likely peg Lotus as a safely scrubbed up Western lens on Vietnamese cuisine — all choice cuts and no knuckles. And they would be right. But is that such a bad thing?
Basically, the food is good (there are a few missteps with the summer rolls and pork dumplings), but don't compare it to your last trip abroad. If you crave the "classic Vietnamese combo of marinated meat, springy rice noodles, soy, fish sauce, fresh basil, cilantro, sprouts, crushed peanuts, jalapeños, scallion oil, and tinge of lime," Lotus will do just fine to satisfy your needs.