Lemongrass Low Down


The tofu curry makes its way down the long table

I’ve been tardy posting in the last month, and have lots of things to update you with. It’s Monday afternoon in Vietnam and I’m actually sitting in my Vietnamese friend Lily’s (who you might remember from earlier blogs) parents’ house in Hanoi as I type this and it’s suddenly started pouring down very very hard with monsoon rain outside the window. Her mum is sitting in her shrine on the balcony upstairs, and I can hear the sound of her repeating her buddhist prayers and the banging of the gongs. After a meal of tofu in tomato sauce, mock squid fritters, mushroom and morning glory soup and bean sprout and mushroom stir fry, (accompanied by rambutans, guava and fresh soy milk) Luke and I have just had a much needed jetlag nap. Later today we will be visiting the Pagoda that LIly’s mum frequents to meet the monks and enquire about whether I might be able to participate in the next feast they prepare there.

But I’ll update you about our arrival weekend later. First we need to recap: It was only been 3 and a half weeks between our Lemongrass vegetarian Vietnamese pop up restaurant and going to Vietnam, a bit of a whirlwind summer for us in general. Firstly, Lemongrass, which I organised with my friend Fran – aka verde – and my photographer partner, Luke aka The Silt Log, was a real success!

We ended up serving 26 people and were slightly oversubscribed, since at the last moment the Granta nominated Chinese novelist, Xiaolu Guo, trekked down from Vauxhall from Hackney to claim her VIP ticket. Of our 8 different dishes – mini summer rolls 3 ways,  lemongrass marinated tofu urry, mango salad, fruit up, sticky rice and black bean pudding, lemongrass ice cream – the dish that seemed to go down the best was the tofu curry (someone said our tofu curry was ‘sublime’ and ‘melted in my mouth’!) and also the ice cream, so these ones are obviously keepers for the future, and the tofu will definitely go in my future cookbook.

It was an incredible amount of work in the end, luckily we’d been able to do a test run with my friend Nhu and her Vietnamese – Cambodian – Australian buddies the week before, so we were able to see just how much time it would take to chop fresh julienne vegetables for 8 dishes by hand for 30 people! And wrapping 90 mini summer rolls – no mean feat. Luckily I’d pulled in the help of my friend Hang, who works at Velo in London bridge

I’ve written a little post for Asia House that’ll go up tomorrow with a short lowdown of the last few months, which I’ll post up here, but for now you can check out a couple of the positive reviews  we had via the grub club website (one of which definitely seems to have been written by a stranger!) Here are some of Luke’s best pics from the night, there are more on our facebook page.


Making the Red Room green


Plated up tofu curry and mango salad


Plating up the last of the curry with my super helpers


All’s going well in the kitchen – Fran (verde) gives a thumb’s up


Assembling the summer rolls


Showing my cookbooks to the guests




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