Friday, September 14, 2007

Eating Seattle: Green Leaf

Expectations are a bitch. You read raves ("oh, the lemongrass eggplant!" "ooh la la the pho"), you get hungry just thinking about noodles and meat and the spring rolls you've read are "ethereal" and "perfect." And then you go.

This is what happened to me last night. I'd read nothing but "my God this is the best food!" reviews about this place, so I walked into Green Leaf with lofty expectations. And you know what? I just don't get it.

We started our meal with the shrimp and pork-filled spring rolls. They had a straw of fried dough in them that gave the rolls an awesome crunch. There was a hint of herb but not enough. And maybe they were out of pork? Nowhere in sight or in taste. Pretty good spring rolls, but nobody was making any When Harry Met Sally noises.
image via 43 places

The vermicelli combo arrived next, thin rice noodles topped with grilled pork, chicken, a fried egg roll and some herbs and lettuce. We doctored the vermicelli with some sambal (chili sauce) and the sweetened fish sauce (delivered with tiny shavings of carrot). The meat was great--dark from a good, hot grill fire. We were sharing this dish and we didn't get quite enough so we ordered another one, this time with all grilled chicken. We raced for the hunks of meat. They should just sell a huge plate of the chicken. It's great.
image via 43 places

Then the lemongrass shrimp arrived. I was worried when I could see the twiggy lemongrass puree coating the shrimp, and I was right: it was over-the-top with that soapy lemongrass flavor. Ed said it tasted like Pledge. And it was served with undercooked hunks of onion. Really, not very good.

We left satisfied but somewhat bewildered. It was good, but not so good that we were wowed. I'll probably go back to try the pho (I just can't order hot soup on a warm summer evening), but I can't help but wonder: Am I missing something? Or are there are others out there, secretly thinking to themselves when they hear the endless Green Leaf raves, "I just don't get it."

Green Leaf in Seattle
[where: 98101]


Anne Nguyen said...

Most people either like Green Leaf or Tamarind Tree because of the atmosphere (for a vietnamese restaurant, those places are damn clean). if you want some good dishes, i'd recommend "vietnam house" right NEXT to tamarind tree. take a look at my blog for some of the dishes i recommended =)

Anne said...

Yeah, I don't get it either. People who go to Green Leaf or Tamarind Tree...go for the environment not the food. If you want authentic vietnamese dishes, try out Vietnam House located right next to Tamarind Tree. I'd recommend the "bun bo hue" (spicy beef noodle) and the "com chien ga cay nhan" (lightly fried chicken on top of fried rice)