My sister, April, visited us this week. Before she left, we took her out for some coffee at The Coffee Bean And Tea Leaf and lunch at Lemon Grass. Lemon Grass is a Vietnamese and Thai restaurant in Ayala Center Cebu. If you are planning to have an early lunch, the restaurant has outdoor sitting so one could dine outside and enjoy the warm sun.
Their tables are made of glass and plastic weaved material. Expect the back of your legs to be wrapped with marks after your meal because their chairs are weaved too.
Lemon Grass is one of the few Vietnamese restaurants who proactively provide a spoon and fork aside from the wooden chopsticks. A very considerate gesture for our non-chopstick-using Filipino friends.
When asked what their best sellers are, the waiter told us that the items with photos on their menu are what their usual customers love. For an appetizer, we tried their Goi Cuon. Gui Con is Vietnamese fresh summer rolls. I couldn’t help but compare Lemon Grass’ with Phat Pho’s. You will find Lemon Grass’ rice paper rolls fresher and softer than the latter. The ingredients are less traditional, though. I remember Phat Pho’s having chives in them which is how Vietnamese cook their Goi Cuon. Phat Pho’s peanut butter dip also tastes creamier and more appealing to me.
We went for their Seafood Red Curry instead of the meat dishes to add a Thai variety to our meal. You will be asked if you like the spicy kind or the moderately spicy kind. We picked the moderately spicy kind and we wish we picked the other one. You will miss the subtle spice from curry on this dish. The seafood is well cooked. The fish is surprisingly in one piece. The squid is tender and the shrimp shelled well.
At this point, you add the one thing all Filipinos can’t live without. Rice. Their rice is served in a small bowl covered with banana leaves and secured with a toothpick. You couldn’t get more Asian than that.
If you would like to sample one of their noodles, go for the Stir-fried beef and flat rice noodles. The tenderloin beef is stir-fried in a hot wok. The noodles are perfectly cooked. I didn’t get to ask if they make their own noodles using rice flour and tapioca starch but this dish is definitely a thumbs-up. You may find it slightly fatty as you keep eating. If this bothers you, try their Tofu and Vegetable noodles (Mi Xao Chai) instead.
Soda and juices are full of empty calories. Steer clear of them by getting Lemon Grass’ Citrus and Herb Lemonade. It’s a quick tonic with fresh ingredients like Lemon, Lime, Orange, and Mint Leaves. It’s refreshing and healthy at the same time.
We didn’t get any of their desserts as we were full and wasn’t even able to finish everything that we ‘ve ordered yet. Their Mango with Sticky Rice and Iced Coffee (Ca Phe Sua Da) is a pair made in heaven- or Asia.
Location: Ground Floor, The Terraces, Ayala Center Cebu, Cebu Business Park, Cebu City
Time: 10AM – 10PM MNL
Phone #: (032) 233 8601
Cuisine: Thai and Vietnamese
Price Range: $$
Other Features: Outdoor Sitting