By RICHARD DAVID CHAMBERLAIN
Happiness. It’s the first thing we felt when walking through the front door of Lemongrass, the Asian fusion bistro on North Federal Highway. The host was smiling, the servers were laughing, and the sushi chef was animated in this oasis from stress. That this is a chain of restaurants (there are others in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and Boynton Beach), makes this magical feat that much more impressive. The happiness we felt re-established itself as harmony, when we actually settled into our seats at a table under a crystal chandelier. There is a certain peace about this place, an elegant simplicity that translates smoothly into the food served here.
There is a section of the menu called “Small Plates from the Kitchen,” that actually contains several very nice portioned dishes, big enough for two. We especially enjoyed the Thai Steamed Dumpling ($7), eight healthy sized dumplings made from seasoned minced pork with a scrumptious sweet sauce and scattered sesame seeds. For something a little richer, we recommend the Lobster Shrimp Shumai ($9), Hong-Kong style, which interprets into delicious and succulent, in a paper-thin pouch.
One of the best bargains on the entire menu finds itself in this category as well: Miso Sea Bass ($12), a lightly grilled Chilean sea bass served with baby pickled ginger, drizzled with a miso-honey glaze. ??? m?iwèi de.
Experimenting among the offerings at the Sushi Bar, we happened upon Tuna Guacamole ($12). Admittedly we were more curious than hungry by this point. But when this dish arrived, we were soon savoring every bit of the seared Cajun tuna and Chinese guacamole served on top of fried crispy wonton, with black tobiko (cavier colored with squid ink) and jalapeno. The subtle flavors encased in Lemongrass Noodle Soup ($13) are a challenge for the palate to discern. Easily identified in this large bowl of spicy broth were shrimps, scallops, mussels, squid, scallions, tomatoes and mushrooms. The rest is a secret recipe only the chef knows and will not share. One taste of this delicious soup and you’ll know why. It takes a great Asian restaurant to deliver perfectedly prepared fish from the kitchen. In this case, we cannot speak well enough of Holy Snapper ($25), an entire boneless snapper fish, fried and topped with a sweet garlic chili sauce. Accompanied by a house salad and brown rice, this dish easily serves two, with enough remaining to take home to the cat.
Authentic Thai Curry is not easy to find, and while the version served at Lemonsgrass is not strictly old school, the lingering flavor on the taste buds after completing a plate of Red Curry with Shrimp ($16) was of sweet coconut milk. While not the best bargain on the menu, it is a huge portion, so plan according to the size of your appetite. Other curry options available include Green Curry, Panang Curry and Masaman Curry—all offered at the same price point.
Between 11:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. daily, Lemongrass Asian Bistro offers lunch specials, most running around $7.95, including a startlingly sassy Kung Pao Chicken with mixed vegetables and peanuts served on white rice.
And if your thought is take-out, imagine if you will a Bento Lunch Box, with fried gyozo, four pieces of sushi or sashimi, chicken teriyaki and a house salad for a measly $11.95. It will make you forget the nearby fast food choices, when a call in advance will have this taste-treat available for pick-up in ten minutes. Either way, tell them Guy Magazine sent you.