Lemongrass Restaurant Opens Downtown
Squirrels. Outrageously priced clothing. Freshmen. Out of all of the things State College has in abundance, there’s one thing that there can never be enough of: Asian restaurants. Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese — every single one has something different to offer. Scott Wong, the owner of Greenbowl, seems to agree, as his newest Vietnamese themed restaurant Lemongrass opened its doors just last week.
Lemongrass is the Chipotle of Asian faire. First you choose from four major elements on the menu, then mix and match the available fixings to create your own unique meal. You can choose between Pho, Bun, Com Tam, and a Banh Mi. For those of you who went back to read that sentence twice and are still a bit bewildered, I’ll break it down for you.
Pho: (Pronounced “fuh”) Basically the Vietnamese version of chicken noodle soup, this savory soup is comfort in a bowl. The basis is a flavorful vegan or beef broth supplemented with a generous amount of rice noodles. The meat is sliced very thin and is actually cooked in the broth, adding an even greater depth of flavor. At Lemongrass the rest is up to you, including choice of meat, sprouts, and herbs. (The fried onions are not to be missed.)
Bun: A traditional platter style meal, the Bun at Lemongrass contains a plate full of vermicelli rice noodles in a light dressing. Choices of meats range from shrimp to pork chops, and extra vegetable toppings are also free game.
Com Tam: See the description for the Bun above, but the noodles are replaced with jasmine rice.
Banh Mi: If I told you to picture some stereotypical Asian food in your mind, I doubt you would be thinking of a sandwich. However the Banh Mi is actually a very traditional Vietnamese dish, served on a French baguette (which was brought to Vietnam during colonization). Again the choice of meat is yours, however I suggest the “nem” which are tiny seasoned meatballs. Lemongrass also gets their baguettes freshly baked from Gemelli’s so the bread adds to rather than hinders the overall flavor.
Along with these four main items you can also taste authentic spring and summer rolls with meat and vegetarian options both available. However, the most interesting thing on the menu would have to be the Phowich. This is a completely unique sandwich combining the idea for Pho and a Banh Mi into a singularly delicious dish. All the common Pho components are there: beef brisket, onions, cilantro, thai basil, bean sprouts, and hoisin sauce. All of these ingredients are then piled onto a Gemelli roll. The most ingenious part of the dish is the broth for dipping, creating a sort of “Vietnamese Dip” sandwich.
Overall, Lemongrass is not “just another Asian restaurant” and brings something truly unique to the State College Vietnamese scene. They’re open from Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. or Sunday’s from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.