Discreet Diner | Water Lily

The term French Asian bistro piques the interest of the Discreet Diner because it combines my two favorite cuisines.

I had not dined in Collingswood lately, so a friend and I headed over to Haddon Avenue to experience Water Lily.

The long dining room has banquette booths on one side and square, wooden tables spaced nicely throughout the rest of the room. The decor is decidedly Asian and paprika is the dominant color.

For starters, we selected the shrimp dumpling soup ($6) and the Fuji apple gyoza ($6). The soup was a clear broth with dumplings and jumbo shrimp. It had good shrimp flavor and my friend savored it.

The gyoza were six Japanese pan-fried dumplings filled with pork and apple ground together and served with a ginger-infused soy sauce. They were prettily presented and they tasted as good as they looked.

Our entrees came in a timely fashion. My friend opted for the shrimp Pad Thai ($10 lunch, $16 dinner). It was a plate of thick rice noodles, with shrimp, tofu, ginger, shallots, bean sprouts and green onion in a kicky tamarind sauce and topped with crushed peanuts. Pad Thai can be heavy, but this offering was light and the ingredients fresh.

I ordered the jumbo lump crabcake ($12 and $24). It was encrusted in macadamia nuts and served with a creamy lime dressing. I usually like my crabcakes straight Maryland-style, but I do have an open mind. This variety was wonderful. The nuts added nice crunch and the crabmeat was good, sweet lumps. The dressing added a little kick, a welcome change from tartar sauce. The crabcake, about three inches in diameter, was served with a ball of rice and steamed broccoli. I poured a little of the special soy on the rice, and it was delicious.

Are you getting the idea that we enjoyed our meal?

Well, the proof is in the pudding, the saying goes. So we moved on to dessert.

Oh, the choices. My friend selected the chocolate raspberry sorbet ($6), a ball of hard dark chocolate with raspberry-flavored stripes and filled with chocolate ice cream and raspberry sorbet. It was pretty on the plate, decorated with a raspberry heart and chocolate squiggles, and pleasing on the palate. A pleasant end to a lovely meal.

We also tried the mango mousse pie ($6), a light and airy offering of mango mousse. If you like mango, you'll love this creamy confection.

I ordered crème brûlée ($6), the favorite dessert of this Discreet Diner. Regular readers will know that not every establishment can prepare this properly, and that the Discreet Diner has had some bad experiences. But the bad outweighs the good. And this one was a winner. The crème had good vanilla flavor and wasn't too sweet. The burnt top offered the right resistance as I broke through. Very well done, indeed. I relished every mouthful.

We finished our meals with cups of good, strong coffee. And smiles.


Discreet Diner | Water Lily

653 Haddon Ave., Collingswood.

Phone: 856-833-0098.

Hours: Lunch is 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and noon to 3 p.m. Saturday. Dinner is 5 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday; 5 to 10 p.m. Friday to Saturday, and 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Reservations: Yes.

Handicapped accessible: Yes.

Parking: On street.

Children's menu: No.

Cocktails: BYOB.

On the Web: www.waterlilybistro.com.


The Discreet Diner is a member

of the Inquirer staff and welcomes your comments. E-mail discreetdiner@phillynews.com.