January 20, 2010 | Rosie Saferstein | New Jersey Monthly
Lemongrass, a Viet-Thai restaurant located at 1729 Route 10 East, Morris Plains, is a casual storefront location that opened in December. We’ve been there twice already, as we’ve been so delighted with the pristine and very fresh-tasting food. Some starters we sampled were shrimp rolls (one order is large enough for two to share) filled with steamed tiger shrimp, mint leaves, lettuce, and vermicelli and served with a sweet and spicy peanut sauce; salted fried calamari with diced peppers and onions; and unusual crispy wontons filled with cream cheese. Warm cream cheese wrapped in a deep-fried crêpe also was offered for dessert. Pho is available in a medium or large bowl, but we opted for a Vietnamese sweet-and-sour soup with fish, which is also available with chicken or shrimp. The soup had subtle flavors from pineapple, mushrooms, bean sprouts, and tomatoes—another appealing starter. Entrées were a creamy red curry with crunchy broccoli, carrots, celery, corn, bamboo shoots, and tofu, served in a soup bowl. Green and yellow curry dishes are also available and can be ordered with vegetables and tofu, chicken, beef, shrimp, or seafood. The spice level was perfect for us, as our eyes weren’t watering. You can always ask for chili sauce or request to have the dish “Thai hot” if heat is what you’re looking for. The cashew stir-fry contained broccoli, celery, carrots, mushrooms, baby corn, cashews, and (our choice) chicken in a spicy bean sauce. Each vegetable was crisp and retained its own distinct flavor. A stir-fry of eggplant and tofu in a spicy bean sauce had all of us fighting for the last piece. We can recommend the stir-fried pad sieiw, thick rice noodles combined with tender beef, egg, bean sprouts, and carrots in a spicy soy sauce and topped with peanuts, as well as the first-class pad Thai, which was as good as any variation of this dish that we have eaten. Fruit shakes, milk bubble tea, and Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk are available, but we prefer wine, and this is a BYO, which makes the inexpensive meal (the most expensive dish was $13) that much easier on the pocketbook. For reservations call 973-998-6303.
Each weekday around noon, the Daily Record posts a picture and a brief description of something in Morris County, or the surrounding area, that we love. Lemongrass Viet-Thai Restaurant. Tucked away in a small strip mall along Route 10 in Morris Plains is Lemongrass Viet-Thai Restaurant, a true hidden gem. The healthy and absolutely delicious Asian cuisine has dishes from both Vietnam and Thailand at reasonable prices. Bring a bottle of your favorite wine or spirits at this BYOB restaurant.
Try the Cashew Stir-Fry filled with broccoli, celery, carrots, mushrooms, baby corn and cashews in a mild bean sauce. Yum!
February 10, 2010 | Janet Esposito | Daily Record
It took the collaborative effort of the Wang family to live out their dreams of owning a restaurant. David and Mai Wang, along with children James and Ann Do and Ann's husband, Hau, have wanted to open a restaurant for a long time. "Dad always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and now he is retiring and Jimmy is available. We figured now was the time," Ann said. To open a food business was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. It took years of planning, training and traveling. The Wangs have lifelong friends who, over the years, have built a business out of opening Thai/Vietnamese restaurants in Toronto. So they summoned some help, and each family member spent time in Toronto learning the business. James would visit Toronto more often than other family members and spend every other summer there while in school. Ann and James graduated from college in different fields but believe it was important to be with the family to get the business off the ground. "I want to spend time with the family since my family is doing this, so I took a one-year leave of absence from work to do this," James said. The shared effort paid off, and the Lemongrass Restaurant opened in December to serve Vietnamese and Thai foods. "There wasn't anything in North Jersey that offered both types of foods under one roof, so we decided this was a perfect location," Ann said. "Plus it gives the customers plenty of choices." The renovated restaurant in black and tan gives off a light and airy feeling. It's simple, modern and eclectic, as well as cozy, warm and inviting.
The diverse Thai-Vietnamese menu is filled with selections from each region. The sugar cane shrimp is a Vietnamese special, as are the spring rolls and noodle soups. Spices are what makes the difference between the regions, and fish sauce is prevalent in Vietnamese food. Many of the Thai dishes use curry sauces and other dishes such as Pad Thai, Thai tamarind chicken and Thai eggplant are available in spicy basil. Other options include stir-fry selections with a variety of sauces, specialty rice dishes, salads, soups and vegetarian dishes. Vermicelli platters are becoming popular among customers. Dr. Derek Fine and wife, Debbie, of Randolph have been back twice since the restaurant opened and already have some favorite dishes. "We loved the curry shrimp and the vermicelli platter," Fine said. "We walked out full and were pleasantly surprised at how affordable the meal was ... and the knowledgeable staff. We will definitely become regulars." Catering is available, and the menu can be customized and suited according to the occasion, gathering and the budget. The Wang family is pleased about introducing specialty regional foods to customers and is happy they are coming back for more. "We have been seeing a lot of repeat customers and that makes us happy because all of the business has been just word of mouth," said James.