Lemon Grass, the landmark south-east Asian restaurant at one of Bandra’s busiest crossroads, is now Lemon Leaf. The new menu is authentic, comforting and full of flavour, finds Phorum Dalal
Food can transport you to another place in another time zone and we were in for a south-east Asian tour when we walked into the two-day-old Lemon Leaf, a new avatar of the decade-old restaurant Lemon Grass at Bandra, Waterfield Road last Wednesday.
Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls (below) at the refurbished Lemon Leaf in Bandra
We settled into the bright green-coloured chairs in the outdoor seating area as chef Mitesh Rangras offered us a Spicy Sangria (Rs 390), which hit the palate with acidic notes of lemon and orange, sweetened with peaches and subtly finished with hot jalapenos. It was red, exotic and immediately uplifted our spirits.
For starters, we tried the Thai-style Spicy Veg Dumpling with Basil and Lemon Grass (Rs 155). The pungent taste of ginger was balanced beautifully with herbs but the chillies were a tad too overpowering. On the other hand, we savoured the Seafood Sui Mai with Ginger and Chilli Dimsum (Rs 245) for its delicate yet delicious seasoning.
The restaurant has added many Vietnamese dishes on its menu. Since Vietnam was ruled by the French, this cuisine has adopted its cooking techniques, Rangras informed us.
Up next were Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls (Rs 250) with fried tofu and pickled chilli wrapped in napa cabbage. We dipped one in a sweet ginger-soy dip. The crunch of the tofu mingled with the cabbage and the sweet and sour taste of the dip created magic. We were immensely impressed with this cold appetiser.
Our next stop was Sri Lanka, with its street-food delicacy, Kothu Roti with Chicken, egg sautéed in onions, tomatoes and spices. It reminded us of the Indian bhurji and we were delighted to devour the dish on a rainy day.
The Beef Samosas (Rs 285), curried in lemongrass, chillies and turmeric were a contemporary twist to our desi version. Served with a cucumber sambal, they were nice and crispy and the beef was cooked just right.
The Korean-style spicy braised chicken broth with rice stick noodles and poached egg (Rs 395) was the out and out winner of our lavish lunch. We lapped up the hot broth with the perfectly-cooked noodles.
For the mains, we had a Buddha’s feast, literally. The medley of tamarind rice with vegetables, shallots and tofu (Rs 385) was a dramatic combination of spicy, sour, tangy and sweet tastes. We burnt our tongues, happily though, with Vietnamese-style Spicy Banana Leaf Smoked Fish served with sticky rice (Rs 395).
With teary eyes and burning lips, we plunged our spoons into Coconut Custard with almond biscuit (Rs 200). The sweetness of the coconut, cream and custard doused the savoury flames, and it was over even before we knew it. We also tried the Spiced Molten Lava cake (Rs 200), oozing with gooey chocolate in the centre, but with a twist. It was flavoured with star anise, nutmeg and cinnamon. The zest of the powerful spices combined with the comforting taste of cocoa was a fitting end to our south-east Asian trip.
We cannot rate the experience, as it was a preview
Price: Rs 1,500 for two with alcohol
At: Shop No 4, Carlton Court, Turner Pali Rd, Bandra West