MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A young woman who grew up in restaurants but studied to be a teacher now owns her own eatery.
The wok never seems to stop at Lemon Grass Thai and Sushi in north suburban Brooklyn Park.
Ann Ahmed started cooking Pad Thai there in May 2005, and her team hasn’t stopped.
“I pride on being fresh, delicious, flavorful,” she said.
Her mother wanted her to go away to college. She studied teaching, but after in her mid-20s in San Diego, she said it was time to come home to Minnesota, after spending seven years away.
This restaurant was her destiny. She mortgaged everything, including her home.
“I didn’t have anything. I maxed my credit cards, sold my car, begged my cousin to work for me, had a boom box for a sound system. But it worked,” she said.
Lemon Grass has Thai in the name, but this is not a traditional Thai restaurant. In fact, there isn’t much traditional about Ahmed.
“I am a saucy girl. I love lots of sauce,” she said. “It’s just solid good food. There’s some ethnic. I’m Laotian. It’s not very ethnic or authentic.”
Her description isn’t meant as a negative, but a bit of a warning to expect something delicious. Think of it as a little Lao, a little Thai, and a little San Diego. There’s sushi and poke bowls there as well. Bold flavors, creative spices, and tons of fresh herbs.
Her crazy duck salad is a favorite.
“This is from my family’s recipe, and I changed it up. ‘Oh, that’s crazy,’ but it’s delicious,” she said.
The restaurant today doesn’t look like it’s in a suburban strip mall. It’s come a long way since the lemon grass green motif when she first opened.
Ahmed admits there are challenges to being in the suburbs, such as finding enough workers.
“We’re tucked away behind a Festival Foods, that’s also a challenge. But being here 13 years, the word has gotten out,” she said. “These are the foods I enjoy cooking for my friends.”
Lemon Grass is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
Lemon Grass Thai and Sushi
8600 Edinburgh Centre Drive
Brooklyn Park, MN 55443
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday & Saturday, 11am-11pm; Sunday, Noon-9pm