For Srifah “Fah” Vorarittinapa, the chef and owner of the Lemongrass Cafe, opening a restaurant was not the original plan.

Originally from Thailand, Fah graduated with a degree back home in mass communications before moving to the U.S. to pursue a Master of Business Administration.

During her first year in the MBA program, Fah said she began cooking out of necessity.

“Back home in Thailand, I didn’t like to cook,” she said. “I always stayed in the kitchen with my mom and see how she cooked. And I didn’t think that I liked it, until I came to America. I missed the food that my mom used to cook. I found the only way I would be able to taste it again would be to do it myself. And I found I enjoy it.”

She said she developed French-style cooking in America. When she began to mix the tastes of Thailand with western culinary techniques, Fah found her calling.

Fah went on to open Lemongrass in 2004 at South Rice Avenue and Bellaire Boulevard after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America.

The result of blending her heritage along with her training and acquired taste in the U.S. is an eclectic menu: There is kataifi-wrapped shrimp, beef satay wraps and pad thai wrapped in a crepe. In a nod to Texans’ fondness for meat, she also serves a Kobe beef burger. And for dessert, there is a ginger creme brulee.

While the cuisine can attract culinary tourists, Fah said she has enjoyed a steady support from the Bellaire area.

“The new place we have now still has a very good regular customer base that has been supporting us for the past 15 years. Their parents take them here in a baby basket, and I see them grow up. ... So it is very fulfilling to see they still come back. It’s not just a restaurant, it’s a family,” Fah said. “I want this place to be a nice family neighborhood restaurant, where people can come in, relax and have something to eat.”

Lemongrass Cafe

5107 Bellaire Blvd., Ste. 120, Bellaire


Hours: Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat. noon-10 p.m., Sun. noon-9 p.m.