418 8th Avenue South
Seattle WA 98122
Line Out the Door? You've Found Green Leaf
By: Steve G
Are you a big fan of Banh Xeo(Vietnamese Pancake)? How about vermicelli noodle bowls? If Vietnamese food is one of your favorites, Green Leaf Restaurant is a spot you definitely need to check out. Though small and inconspicuous with its simple "Green Leaf" sign, it's what Green Leaf has hidden inside that makes it a fabulous place.
But what's the big deal with Green Leaf? Pho restaurants seem to be sprouting up all over the place in the Northwest right? The major difference that separates Green Leaf from the rest of the pack is quality and taste. Their vermicelli bowls are some of the freshest we've ever tasted and the Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Pancake) ($5.95) is the best that we've ever had. Soft and flaky, it was a huge improvement over the hard and brittle types we've had at other places in Chinatown. It was a cinch to break off a small piece to wrap in lettuce. Mixed with the fish sauce, it is a great appetizer for two. If you want to add on to the fried goodness, try the fried flour cake. The small cut pieces are delectable pieces of deliciousness that are a can't-miss.
The Steamed Rice with Spicy Lemongrass Chicken and onion ($7.95) is a very potent dish with its spicy and powerful taste. The chicken is lightly crispy and has a strong herby flavor that might catch the faint of heart off-guard. Though the name indicates it is made with lemongrass, the chicken didn't seem to have much a citrus taste, but that didn't diminish its flavor in any capacity. The Escargot Stuffed and Pork($5.95) are an interesting appetizer with a bit of fusion appeal. Ground with pork, escargot, and a wide variety of spices and green onions, the skewers tasted great. If you think the idea of snail is disturbing, don't fret, the skewers have no resemblance to anything snail like. More akin to a big oddly shaped piece of meat on a stick, this dish is surprisingly good and mildly addictive. After a few minutes, you'll wonder who ate all of the skewers. With all this food, we aimed to quench our thirst with the fresh squeezed Orange Juice. Unlike other places, Green Leaf delivers on its promise of freshness with a tall cup of sweet juice with a little pulp and no extra sweeteners.
More often than not Green Leaf is extremely crowed, but what great place isn't? The best chance for quick seating is right after the lunch hour rush or early dinner. Decorated with lots of bamboo, Green Leaf has a really festive look, though the Christmas lights along the front seemed a little out of place. The service was on the spot, with staff being very receptive. On any given day, you'll see the owner of Green Leaf pass by the tables making sure that everybody is doing okay, even sitting down to have a chat with us during our visit. Of course, it did help that one of us knew the owner. The noise of all the tables can seem deafening, but once you sit down the nice dark finished tables tend to keep groups huddled together where your conversations are crystal clear.
In conclusion, addictive food with a little flair of fusion combined with some of the best ingredients adds up to an amazing place to eat. It's hard to argue that there is a better place for Vietnamese food in the Seattle area. All of the traditional dishes you would expect are up to par and even the wild variations are amazing. While Tamarind Tree may excel at style, Green Leaf excels in quality and substance, and in our books that's what counts the most.