We came back, and it was new. The menu is a laminated extensive list. The construction was finished. The booths are filled. The space was lushed with soothing 80′s music. The dishes were brought out one after another all too quickly.
Appetizer 1: tôm chiên cốm (fried shrimp coated with crispy green rice, pictured above). Little seasoning is added, the flavor relies on the shrimps’ freshness and the cốm‘s natural confection. Pure novelty. The shrimps come in flock of five.
Appetizer 2: mango salad. Here’s my guess: a squirt of lemon, a pinch of sugar, a half-ripe mango (to keep the crunchy but not so much the sour), a pinch of sesame seeds for colors, and again, five rosy boiled shrimps for protein. It’s refreshmunchtastic.
Entree 1: bò lúc lắc (shaken beef). I don’t know who came up with the name “shaken beef”. It’s translated all too literally, or were the beef chunks trembled with fear? I’d feel pretty shook up too if I were brined, pierced with a skewer, and turned side to side like crazy on a hot grill. Great meat, flavorful onion and bell pepper. The red rice looks inviting but resides on the plain side, as gac gives only color but little taste.
Entree 2: bò cuộn tôm nướng (grilled beef-rolled shrimp). Don’t you just love how the chargrilled red meat and seafood are balanced with pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, tomatoes, and a cup of fluffy white rice sitting neatly on two curly lettuce leaves? A little bit of crushed peanuts and chopped scallions for boost, although the beef rolls are quite brackish themselves. Notice there are 5 shrimps.
Entree 3: bò lá lốt (grilled ground beef wrapped in lolot leaves). Instead of using grape leaves like the Persians, the Laotians and the Vietnamese wrap their meat in the tangy, somewhat bitter lolot leaves. Like champagne, it might not taste amazing to an objective thinker, but it’s popular. Something that a good authentic Vietnamese restaurant has for the ones in need of a reminder of a taste at home.
Address: Lemon Grass Vietnamese & French Cuisine
1143 Story Road, San Jose, CA 95122
Recall: First time at Lemon Grass