BRAINTREE – When he wanted a meal at an upscale Asian restaurant, Tuan Le, a resident of Braintree, said he ventured to Boston to find what he was looking for.
Today, he and his wife, Annie, own the city’s brand new Asian fusion restaurant, named after a rare sweet fruit from Southeast Asia: Lychee Bistro & Lounge.
“We wanted to bring something fresh,” said Tuan Le, sitting in Lychee’s bar.
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The food at Lychee is carefully prepared, he and Annie said, a fusion of Vietnamese, French and American dishes. He said they created each dish from scratch.
Fish tacos, for example, aren’t classic half-moons filled with meat and vegetables.
At Lychee, the ahi tuna fills homemade wonton wrappers and the tacos are topped with Asian coleslaw and cilantro-lime cream sauce.
Tuan stressed that they wanted Lychee to stand out from other Asian restaurants, which often evoke a more casual dining experience.
The bistro menu offers a variety of dishes.
Chicken loaded kimchi fries, pho steak that uses flank cuts, lollipop chicken wings that are made one at a time.
Annie and Tuan Le agreed that one of their favorite dishes was vegetarian corn ribs.
“It’s not easy,” said Annie, to make the corn ribs, which resemble the classic shape of pork ribs.
Lychee chefs divide the corn on the cob into curves and fry them until golden brown, creating a vegetarian version of a meal that you always have to use both hands to eat.
Tuan Le said they try to limit each dish to around five ingredients, so meals focus on both quality and visual appeal. The “fusion” part of their Asian fusion restaurant, he said, is about making creative, enjoyable and healthy meals.
“Eat it first with your eyes,” he said. “It’s about making food fun.”
The couple have thought of every detail of the restaurant, from the original designs of the dishes to the containers in which they are served.
The pho steak, for example, comes out of diners in a hot stone bowl specially ordered in Korea. The bowl continues to heat the pho, even after bringing it to the table.
Beyond the culinary design, Tuan and Annie Le redeveloped the old Tiki Palace building to make it brighter and larger.
The ceilings were higher, Tuan Le said, and glass panels line the walls, letting light filter into the cool white interior.
“We were very lucky to acquire this building,” he said.
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The bistro is at a busy intersection in Braintree. Sometimes the quiet of the restaurant while empty before opening night is briefly interrupted by the purple-silvery blur of the commuter train passing just across the street.
The owners spent a lot of time getting Lychee up and running, having first acquired the building in 2017. The challenges were many: getting a liquor license, doing renovations, complying with conservation efforts. environment and hire staff during a national labor shortage. The opening was slated for spring 2020, but the pandemic has pushed that back. The restaurant finally opened on January 7.
“We’re new to this whole restaurant business. We really need support,” said Tuan Le. “But until now, based on the smooth opening, even before the opening, (we had) people calling and checking in constantly. All of this overwhelming support from Braintree and all the surrounding towns.
“We are really, really grateful.”
If you are going to
What: Litchi Bistro & Lounge
Or: 1177 Washington Street, Braintree
Hours:11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday and Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Contact: 781-380-5128; litchibistro.com
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Contact Alex Weliever at email@example.com.