When I first heard about Lemongrass Caf, a popular Vietnamese spot on the south side of the city, my initial thought was … pho. Lots and lots of pho.
But once I arrive and flip through the massive menu, I realize there are far more interesting options than the standard, albeit delicious, mix of broth and noodles.
Our server recommends the Thai salad, a hearty mix of spinach, cabbage, bean sprouts,onions and chicken or prawns.
Easily big enough to be shared, this light, clean-tasting salad is sprinkled with roasted sesame seeds and peanuts, and accompanied by a fresh sesame dressing. The vinaigrette dressing has a surprising amount of flavour, but doesn’t clash with the other ingredients.
The green onion cakes are possibly the best in the city, claims one of my dining companions. These fluffy golden treats are deliciously unhealthy and are the opposite of the flat, dense cakes that can usually be found at fairgrounds.
The chicken, mango and apple in red curry sauce is spicy but sweet. Fruity hints go along with every bite, creating pleasant levels of zip that aren’t overwhelming. The thick sauce is almost stew-like and blankets the rice instead of soaking into it.
If you’re after a more intense level of spice, the Singapore noodles bring the heat. Fried vermicelli noodles with shrimp, chicken, carrots, bell peppers, bean sprouts, eggs, curry and coconut sauce are heaped in a massive pile – perfect for sharing, or multiple days of leftovers. If this fiery dish becomes too much for you, wash it down with a creamy Vietnamese iced coffee, a mix of bitter coffee and sweetened condensed milk, combined over a mound of ice.(10417 51 Ave., 780-413-0088)