Following the lemon scent and walking into the wooden cabin, the owners of Lemongrass Kitchen, Jeff and Karen, quickly chop dried chili, red onion, garlic, etc., and then add Thai spices, including cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and white peppercorns. They stir-fry these ingredients in the pan. Later on, this concoction will be served as a seasoning. As restaurant owners, they insist on using natural ingredients, including sauces, broths, etc., which are all-natural and handmade, without chemical additives.
Australian chef Jeff has worked in many five-star hotel chains in Taiwan. After marrying, the couple returned to Australia. He learned Thai cuisine while serving at Melbourne Longrain, a one-hat restaurant in Melbourne. Then he flew to Thailand and learned cooking at the high-end Thai restaurant "Blue Elephant," which is highly recommended by Michelin. After obtaining a certificate, he returned to Hualien, his wife's hometown, and established the restaurant "Lemongrass Kitchen - Thai Handmade Cuisine" at the end of 2018.
Jeff said: "Hualien is very similar to Melbourne. It’s slow-paced and uncrowded with fresh air and good water quality. The agricultural products are cheap and good. For example, fresh chili is only half the price compared to Taipei."
As for the highly popular cuisine "Red Curry Soft Shell Crab," Thai soft-shell crabs are selected and then cooked with dried chili, resulting in a spicy, crispy, and charming dish. The menu also has yellow curry with boneless chicken legs. They are marinated in Thai oyster sauce and soy sauce overnight, roasted until golden and bright, then cooked in Thai yellow curry powder and lemongrass.
"Steamed lemon fish" is made from fresh seabass and then prepared with fresh green and red chili, garlic, coriander, lemon juice, fish sauce, and coconut sugar. Jeff emphasizes that coconut sugar is made by cutting off the flowers of the coconut tree and pouring out nectar-like sap. Then it is put under heat until most of the water has evaporated. "BANANA FRITTER" is made by wrapping bananas with dried rice flake, frying them, drizzling them with coconut sugar caramel, and embellishing them with crispy sweet potato slices, resulting in sweet and vibrant flavors.
In their free time, Jeff and Karen like to go to Taroko or enjoy the ocean scenery. Jeff says: "From the mountains to the sea, all of the water in Hualien is very clear." From far away on the other side of the earth, and after receiving training at high-end restaurants, Jeff and Karen have come back home, like salmon swimming up the stream. What’s more, they have started Lemongrass Kitchen in hopes of contributing beautiful things to Hualien, a place of nature and purity.
Address: 151-1, Minguo Rd., Hualien City, Hualien County 970, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Opening Hours: 11:30–14:00 , 17:30–20:00（Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays）