Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Green Leaf

The tableware at Green Leaf made our meal look special from the moment the waitress brought out the tea, which came in larger than normal pretty ceramic cups, and no pot. All of the dishes were beautiful Asian pottery, and the chopsticks were attractive dark wood.
We ordered two appetizers: the vegetarian spring rolls, and the Green Papaya salad. The spring rolls were beautifully presented, and we were each given our own peanut dipping sauce. There was something special in the spring rolls that made them stand out... it was some sort of little crispy fried something or other, not enough to make them feel heavy, but just enough crunch to make them taste extra good.
The Green Papaya salad was gorgeous also. It can be ordered with a choice of shrimp or tofu, and we ordered ours with tofu. The salad was a beautiful pile of shredded green papaya and purple cabbage, and it was heavily garnished with crispy browned shallots and chopped peanuts. The sauce was tangy and savory, not sweet, and the fish sauce in it was so light I could barely notice it (I still wasn't quite able to eat my share, but I tend to be especially sensitive to fish sauce)*. It wasn't spicy in the least.
The tofu that came on the salad was wonderful. It was fresh and firm and quickly grilled, then covered with some sort of delicious fried garlicky lime-y bits. A member of our party who doesn't usually like tofu enjoyed it so much he wanted to order it next time for himself.
The vegetarian main dishes exist but represent a small portion of the menu, and I chose the vegetarian soup. They didn't seem to have a vegetarian "pho", but the soup I ordered was similar (minus the tray of sprouts and basil etc). This particular bowl was full of rice noodles, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green onions, basil, fried tofu strips, fake ham pieces and a generous sprinkling of black pepper. It was garnished with the same fried onion pieces that were on the papaya salad, and they added a welcome richness to the soup. I was presented with a small plate of lime wedges and jalapeno to add as I fancied.
As one member of our party put it, these guys really know how to use fried ingredients. Every dish we ordered had a tiny amount of some delicious fried garnish: onions, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, whatever was in the spring rolls... not enough to make it feel greasy or heavy, but enough to add some intrigue to the otherwise very fresh and light feeling fare.

Green Leaf is a small somewhat cramped restaurant, but the ambiance remains pleasant. In addition, the staff was especially friendly and accommodating.

*I don't usually eat fish sauce, but this is the second time I've made a semi-exception for Green Papaya salad. I wonder if Araya's has a vegan version... I bet they do.

Green Papaya
Neighborhood: International District
418 8th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 340-1388
Green Leaf on Urbanspoon


Tikvah Weiner said...

Hi! My name is Tikvah (I sit next to your Aunt, Karen Bentley). Anyways i was going to suggest that you try Green Leaf!!! I love your website and i recently went to green leaf and thought it was excellent (and that you might enjoy it as well:)

keep up the good work, Tikvah

Tofu Hunter said...

Hi Tikvah! Thanks for the comment! I love to hear what other people think of the places I've reviewed.

Good eating to you!