Green Leaf bills itself as “Japanese healthy cuisine” but don’t hold that against this spare and serene suburban eatery. The kitchen is doing some very interesting things in the name of pan-Asian low-fat, low-carb, low-everything spa cuisine, and doing them so well you can forget it’s good for you. Case in point: The California fruit roll ($5.95 crab stick, $12.95 real crab) is an innovative take on Vietnamese goi cuon summer rolls. Soft rice wrappers envelope mango, Fuji apple, avocado, and crab filling, and the flavors melt together in a symphony of light but luxe sensations, piqued by the tamarind dipping sauce. Truly brilliant. Then there’s the chicken papaya soup ($4.95), another innovative variation on an Asian classic, Thai lemon grass soup. Green Leaf’s version adds crunchy bits of green papaya to the chicken, tomato, onion, and lemon grass all swimming in a velvety broth enlivened with puréed mango. Wow.
Presentation is simple but striking—five fat sesame-marinated baby octopi loll prettily on a mound of seaweed salad and cucumber spirals ($5.75), while cold mint lime pasta ($9.95) is landscaped so the chile-dressed shrimp spiral upward to a leafy green cilantro summit. For dessert there’s the amazing nonfat mango pudding ($5.75), intensely flavored and silky and, best of all, good for you.