massaman curryHighly rated hidden gem

By Janine Pulford

You could be forgiven for walking straight past this Thai restaurant in Ringwood because you have to look skywards to find it.

Overlooking the Market Place, Lemongrass is situated above The Cancer Research shop. Its entrance and parking can be found at the back of the properties.

If you love Asian food, you will return again and again, especially knowing that the restaurant has a top hygiene rating.

Ashley and Noi Hammond opened Lemongrass on 8 August 2013. The couple spent over £12,000 on a new stainless steel kitchen and proudly boast a 5 star hygiene rating, the highest achievable. They feel confident that their quality dishes are some of the best prepared in the area.

Head chef, Dang, trained in some of the top hotels in Bangkok, Thailand and has worked in many top London restaurants. Noi, Molly and Phimpha form his team of chefs.

Produce is sourced locally where possible: traceable meat from Patterson’s Butchers and vegetables from Longs Fruit and Veg, but Ashley who has just completed a degree in professional cookery, adds, “Thai chefs like to work with authentic Thai herbs and spices. They cook from the heart, so we obtain various fresh ingredients every week, flown in from Thailand to Hurn Airport.”

The spacious restaurant comfortably seats 84.

Ben and I visited recently. For starters, Ben ordered a classic hot sour Tom Yum, a Thai broth packed with spices. “All the flavours are there,” he said. “Very authentic.” He should know, his partner lives in Thailand and he visits as often as he can.

I chose Tom Kha, a fragrant soup with king prawns, mushrooms, coconut, chives, lemongrass, galangal and fresh coriander. I savoured the deliciousness of every spoonful.

Thai green curryOur mains were chicken Thai green curry and jasmine rice for Ben and a vegetable massaman curry with coconut rice for me. Traditionally mild, massaman includes diced new potatoes, onions and peanuts all brought together in a smooth coconut milk. The vegetables included broccoli, sugar snaps, baby corn, green beans and mushrooms. It was a festival of flavours and textures in my mouth.

Ben meanwhile enjoyed his green curry, “It’s lovely,” he said. “It takes me straight back to Thailand and has got a kick to it.”

I had a taste. Talk about different palates. It left my mouth on fire and I was very happy to have chosen the massaman. I did prefer the jasmine rice though. The extra richness of coconut rice wasn’t really needed with my dish.

All was washed down with Singha beer for Ben and a cloudy apple juice for me.

The menu is vast, there are specials and plentiful side orders. On Wednesday evenings the ‘all you can eat buffet’ at £9.95 won’t burn a hole in your pocket.

So if you haven’t already discovered Lemongrass, now is the time to find out what this highly rated restaurant has to offer. Book now or order a takeaway on 01425 478254.

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