Lemongrass Café Review

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Lemongrass Café, located in Bellaire, is an Asian Fusion restaurant that has been open since 2004.  The décor is a soft green and neutral wood tone. We were promptly greeted and seated. Our server was very attentive and helpful answering question about the menu.  For dinner, our party of 7 started off with appetizers of Plantains with Chimichurri Sauce, Lemongrass Pizza, Lemongrass Pork Skewers and Sesame Tuna Tartare, all of which were very delicious and presented beautifully.  The plantain chips were brought out on a plate, standing straight up in a wire basket, with a small dish if bright green chimichurri sauce. The chips were cooked perfectly crispy with just a hint of salt. The chimichurri was smooth and delicious.  The Lemongrass pizza was topped with chicken, tomato, mozzarella cheese and tom yum spices along with a half lemon. The taste was reminiscent of tangy tom yum soup and surprisingly delicious on a pizza. The tuna tartare was assembled layered with chopped avocado served with fried wonton chips.  The pork skewers were marinated and grilled so that the edges are crispy, slightly charred goodness. The dipping sauce was made of tamarind and shallot that paired wonderfully with the pork. The pork skewers was the favorite, perfect flavor and texture.

For entrees, we had the Roasted Five Spice Duck, the Cedar Plank Roasted Salmon, Lemongrass Café Pad Thai with chicken, Sauteed Rainbow Trout, Shitake Soy Braised Lamb Shank, Massaman Chicken Curry, Seared Scallop and Grilled Shrimp.  The Five Spice Duck was a farm raised duck breast with glaze made of star anise along with baby bok choy, sugar snap peas and wonton noodles. The duck was so tender and juice with the seasoning perfectly blending the flavors. The salmon was served with asparagus and fingerling potatoes in an Oolong tea sauce.  The pad thai was wrapped in two egg crepes and tasted very much like a classic pad thai. The rainbow trout was served with asparagus, brussel sprouts and fingerling potatoes with a light lemon mustard, caper brown butter sauce that was very light, allowing the natural taste of the trout to come through. The lamb shank was cooked to perfection, served with baby bok choy and noodles.  The Massaman Chicken Curry was sweet and delicious chicken stewed with tomato, zucchini, carrots, onions and toasted peanuts. The favorite was Five Spice Duck, which happens to be the most popular dish on the menu.

The restaurant was owned and operated by chef Srifah Vorarittinapa.  She was known as Chef Fah. She was always on site to make sure the plates of food were served up to standard.  She was classically trained at the Culinary Institute of America in NYC. She had worked at a number of top restaurants. This was her first restaurant.  It was not a chain. She wanted to open her own restaurant so she could “create her own unique tastes instead of making someone else’s recipes.” She was thankful to have regular customers who have come in for 15 years since the restaurant opened.  Chef Fah felt that the customers were now like family. She had seen the kids first come carried in their infant carriers, who were now 15 years old. She enjoyed seeing them grow up over the years.

We enjoyed our meal and highly recommend the Lemongrass Café.  However, Chef Fah told me that Sunday, December 9, 2018 would be their last day at their current location, which they have occupied for 15 years.  The strip center where the restaurant is located was built in 1949 and was being rebuilt. The Lemongrass Café will reopen in March when their new space is built out.  Chef Fah chose to stay at this same center become this was where their loyal customers would know to find them.

Review: 5 out 5 stars

Price:  Moderate $12 to $22 dinner entrée

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