Fresh basil, spouts and lime on the ready
I was really sad when Café and Toast in the Walmart shopping plaza in Tiftonia closed. I love the owner, Johnny GN Chiang Sing, and the food was so yummy.
But I recently discovered he sold his restaurant to Vientiane “V” Somsamith, and it’s open! The Lemongrass Restaurant is at the end of the strip, and V has refreshed everything from top to bottom.
Specializing in Thai food, the menu offers everything from Tom Ka Gai (hot and spicy soup) to Spicy Basil Noodles to Masaman curry and everything in between. I’m totally lost with these names - Johnny just told me to order the rice noodles with veggies and shrimp and I never varied from that because it was so good. But I asked our precious little waitress (who was on fall break) about what to get, and, after asking us a few questions, she gave us two choices. I ordered the Pad Se Yw and my mother ordered the chicken fried rice.
Beer and wine is coming soon, but my mother and I were thrilled to find another restaurant open on Sunday night. We just zipped down the mountain after the 5:05 service at Church of Good Shepherd. Since Lemongrass had only been open four days, I didn’t expect to see anyone in the restaurant. Imagine my surprise when we were greeted by a boisterous crowd enjoying a family dinner. Susie and Lea Courtney, Leanne Courtney and Kate and Russell Courtney and their two boys were all enjoying themselves. Actually, Russell and Kate had eaten at Lemongrass the day before, and, singing its praises, brought the whole family!
There were a few other folks dining at the tables as well, and several others grabbing to-go dinners. We didn’t wait long before our meals arrived, and they were fabulous! Mine, especially. I happened to order exactly what Russell had eaten the day before, the Pad Se Yw, something I’d never heard of. It’s fresh wide noodles tossed with dark soy sauce and oyster sauce and all kinds of veggies, all “stir-fried to a caramelized perfection.”
I’ll add extra broccoli to my dish next time, but I’ll be getting it again. My mother is wary of spicy food. Make that wary of any seasoning at all on her food. She requested for her chicken fried rice to be super mild, but next time she says she’s branching out. No matter how many times you see the word spicy in the menu, it’s cooked mild as a hard rule; the spice is adjusted depending on if you order it medium or spicy.
The menu suggests beef with my particular dish, but I ordered shrimp. And the shrimp were super delish (I’m particular), but that sauce definitely calls for beef. Next time I’ll pay more attention to V’s advice.
Oh, a small but notable detail is that V’s uncle and cousin are manning the kitchen. You may wonder why that is important, but they came from Rain Thai Bistro, a winner of multiple awards.
My plate was heaped high, and I asked for a to-go box when asked. No way could I eat all of that, right? My mom had a few bites of mine, but I basically licked my platter clean. So much for leftovers for lunch the next day … unless I zip in for a quick to-go order at Lemongrass!
Call 803-0493, which is the same number as Café and Toast’s phone number. Lemongrass is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
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Ferris Robinson is the author of three children’s books, “The Queen Who Banished Bugs,” “The Queen Who Accidentally Banished Birds,” and “Call Me Arthropod” in her pollinator series. “Making Arrangements” is her first novel. “Dogs and Love - Stories of Fidelity” is a collection of true tales about man’s best friend. Her website is ferrisrobinson.com and you can download a free pollinator poster there. She is the editor of The Lookout Mountain Mirror and The Signal Mountain Mirror.