Lemongrass Express

So I’m finally getting around to my Big Island vacation eats from the summer.  I didn’t really plan on any specific places to hit up.  In fact, I did very little planning for the whole trip.  Thanks to Fat-Skinny-Fat-Less Fat and Dairy Queen, I just hopped along for the ride and kinda played the fooding by ear.  It’s a pleasant surprise when you just stumble upon delicious gems.  I really feel Lemongrass Express was a fortuitous find.  It was close by.  It was well rated.  It was reasonably priced.  There was no wait.  I guess it helps when you eat at 3pm.  Maybe it was so delicious because we were all so frickin’ hungry.  A day at the beach, snorkeling and boogie boarding can do that to you.  Of course, everyone (The Mexican Manchild, FxGf/FW, Fat-Skinny-Fat-Less Fat, Sleepy Snoozer, The Cat Whisperer, and Ho-Bag) kicked back and let me do the ordering.  The waiter was really helpful in guiding me to their most popular specialties.

Papaya Salad chili, garlic, lime
Ho-Bag and I were really starving for some fiber during our Hawaii trip.  I learned that Hawaiian food is rather unhealthy and unbalanced, heavy on the starch, protein, and oil.  This was bright and refreshing, just what I craved.  Not particularly special but necessary to balance out the lunch.

Thai Beef Salad sweet onion, pepper, cucumber, fresh herbs, lemongrass citrus vinaigrette

I just had to throw in another salad.  More brightness and crunch.

Crispy Pork Belly fresh market greens, garlic, dry chili sauce

Sometimes the leaves of morning glory can get mushy while you’re trying to get the woody stalks cooked through.  But when you have nice tender greens, everything gets cooked perfectly.  The pork was crispy and maybe a tad dry.  Overall, great dish.

Singapore Drunken Noodles udon noodle, onion, pepper, curry, garlic, chili sauce

They showcased some fusion aspects here using udon noodles instead of the traditional wide flat rice noodle.  Texturely, it made for some unctuous slippery noodles.  Normally this dish is more on the pan fried side, but this version was saucey and watery.  I loved the variety of vegetables here.

Garlic Sambal Beef onion, pepper, garlic, chili sauce

Delicious and so well balanced with spice, sweet, salt.

Orange Chicken pineapple, onion, pepper, kaffir lime orange gastrique

Nobody does a better orange chicken than Panda Express.  I’m just gonna put that out there now.  This was a tasty showing though.  The orange and pineapple flavors were obviously fresh.

Sake Mirin Jalapeño Braised Oxtail kimchee fried rice

This was an amazing fusion dish.  A big hunk of tender oxtail in a Japanese style sat atop a generous helping of Korean kimchee fried rice.  There was an overall sweetness to the dish that was all Hawaiian.  This is a must get.

Fried Ice Cream panko crusted hawaii sweet bread crusted sweet potato-taro ice cream
I was incredibly impressed with crunchy exterior, the soft sweet bready interior that encased the taro ice cream.  I don’t even like taro that much but man this dessert was probably one of the most unique takes on an old classic.
I really loved Lemongrass Express as did the rest of the gang.  They have a bigger location in Kona with a more extensive menu. I think this outpost is just fine.  Their menu seems to have only their best dishes anyways.  I’d call it fusion, but it leaned heavily Thai which I didn’t mind at all.  The Hawaiian influences were not obvious in your face.  There was no spam, poi, or loco moco.  The overall feel of the place definitely felt Hawaiian in some way still.  I can’t imagine stumbling upon a restaurant like this on the mainland for sure.  I wish I could come back to this place, but I probably won’t be back to the Big Island anytime soon.  *Sadface*

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