Fo0die dined as a guest of Lemongrass and as such, the rating does not give any consideration to customer service.
Easily accessible via bus or an easy walk from the tram stop at Swanston Street, we arrived for dinner on a Friday evening. Established in 1989, the 28 year old restaurant has so much history to how it all came about (and you can read all about it on their website!). Lemongrass is a restaurant that prides itself on using traditional techniques that was used to prepare food in the palace back in the day; termed the royal cuisine.
Voted as number 1 Thai restaurant in Victoria and placing Silver nationally in the 2017 Restaurant & Catering Australia Awards for Excellence, we knew we were in for a treat!
Located at the corner with almost floor to ceiling windows around two sides of the restaurant, the decor inside is modern but with a bit of traditional Thai decor spread around the restaurant. Upon entry is the cashier and kitchen to the right with a large seating area filled with dark wooden tables and padded wooden chairs.
The restaurant has two floors with the upper floor, both a function room which can be booked and additional seating area for when the downstairs fills up. Note that the rest rooms are located upstairs and there is a slight step down in the dining area downstairs.
Lemongrass started off serving only royal cuisine dishes on their menu and with time, the menu expanded to include modern dishes prepared using the traditional techniques and street food. The menu has been newly updated with new dishes and was well illustrated for those who prefer to see what exactly the dish is prior to ordering.
We were advised that no paste is used and everything is handmade in their kitchen; something the restaurant is clearly very proud of. We were most fortunate and got to sample a very good selection off their menu and would say between two, an appetiser or two and a main each or two mains to share is enough to satisfy the belly.
There wasn’t anything to fault in terms of the flavour of any of the dishes we sampled with the only thing we could provide any feedback on being the size of the meat in the green curry being too big and the consistency of the slices of beef in the nuer nam tok (beef salad).
The chicken satay skewers were perfectly flame grilled with a lovely peanut sauce to go with it. The BBQ sticky rice with filling, although not a favourite of ours from all the dishes, was tasty (you must peel off the banana leaf and not try to eat it like one of us almost did). The BBQ pork neck was Mr J’s favourite (and he was thankful that the chilli sauce was served separately) while the pineapple fried rice was a joint favourite served in a half pineapple shell but if you wanted to save the money, trust us the fried rice does not require the pineapple shell to taste good!
The two soups we sampled had a nice flavour to them; sourness to the tom yum soup and a lovely creaminess to the tom kah gai (one of us did find the soups slightly a little salty for their palate). Serving size wise, for a small bowl of soup each, one between two is enough but if you wanted a bigger bowl of soup then one each.
The last of the savoury dishes was the green curry and whole burramundi mango salad. The curry was slightly creamy with chunky sizes of eggplant and would comfortably serve two with a generous amount of curry sauce to go with the rice. The whole burramundi fish was cleverly presented with the whole fish (fillets removed) curved around the fillets and the mango/apple salad and sauce served to the side (Mr J appreciated this as he likes to control the amount of sauce in ones dish).
In terms of chilliness, we requested for all dishes to be as mild as possible. The two soups, the nuer nam tok (beef salad) and the green curry were all chilli. By Mr J’s standards they were a little too chilli for him but for my personal taste, they were chilli with a bit of a kick to it (i.e. reaching for the water once in awhile) but not super chilli such that I couldn’t consume it.
Moving onto desserts, we sampled three. Each dessert displayed modern desserts utilising traditional techniques and the value of keeping dishes natural and made in house as much as possible. The sticky rice crackers in the mango sticky rice was given colour by a flower for the purple and depending on the season, guests may see different colours. The Thai version of the creme caramel was more dense and coconut flavoured with a sweet golden egg thread that is made in house (check the photo out, it’s so golden coloured!). While the Thai banana pancake can only be best described as a banana fritter cross hotcake/pancake and reminds us of the Melbourne brunch scene’s hotcakes.
I think we have found a Thai restaurant in Melbourne that we can add to our favourite list.
Dishes that make up this review
- Chicken satay skewers; thai satays, carefully basted with spiced coconut milk and flame grilled. Served with a Thai-style peanut sauce ($3.20 per skewer, minimum 4)
- Khao neaw haw bai toey / BBQ sticky rice with filling; grilled banana leaf-wrapped sticky rice filled with spicy ground dried shrimp and coconut filling as sold in the streets of Thailand ($6.80 each)
- Moo yang / barbecued pork neck; a thai delicacy of 150gm BBQ pork neck enjoyed with a classic chilly BBQ dip ($18.80)
- Pineapple fried rice; fried rice with raisin, cashews, pineapple, onion, prawn, chicken and egg topped with pork floss ($18.80 + $4.80 to have it served in a pineapple)
- Tom yum goong; traditional herbed lemongrass soup with prawns and mushroom ($12.80)
- Tom kah gai; traditional herbed lemongrass soup with chicken, coconut and mushroom ($12.80)
- Mango salad whole burramundi 450gm; topped with julienned strips of green mango/apple with a dressing and garnished over with a fragrant browned lemongrass floss ($38.80)
- Nuer nam tok; tender pieces of succulent grilled beef in herbs and spices. Best eaten spicy or very spicy with rice ($20.80)
- Gaeng keow wahn / green curry; green curry as made by mentor Boonchoo and still made by her daughter and granddaughters today. Cooked with eggplant, Asian snake bean and Thai eggplant ($21.80 with chicken fillet)
- Traditional mango and sticky rice; two halves of fresh mango served with warm sticky rice topped with coconut flakes and yellow beans ($15.80)
- Thai banana and berry pancakes; Thai banana pancakes with a berry coulis and vanilla ice-cream ($15.80)
- Sang-kaya; Paula’s Thai coconut crème caramel ($9.80)
- Lemongrass vodkatini; imported lychee liqueur, vodka, frozen sake-ed lychee. Shaken not stirred ($14.90)
- Siamese princess; cointreau, imported lychee liqueur, french champagne ($13.80)
- Lemongrass fiz; lemongrass, lime, syrup, selected berry juice, ginseng, touch of ginger and a touch of soda ($8.80)
Address: 174-178 Lygon St, Carlton VIC 3053
Phone: (03) 9662 2244