Some locals joke that there's a sushi place for every 10 people along the York Road corridor from Towson to Hunt Valley. That might not be such an exaggeration. We noticed quite a few Asian eateries on the busy thoroughfare as we headed north recently in search of, well, another sushi restaurant.
But Green Leaf Restaurant—tucked into one of the area's ubiquitous strip-shopping centers—proved to be a worthy destination among its brethren, although we didn't realize it right away. Sandwiched between a nail salon and dry cleaner in Shawan Plaza, its storefront exterior isn't particularly noteworthy. In fact, there is nothing remarkable about its interior either until you sit down and start being seduced by the Japanese, Thai, and Asian offerings, friendly staff, and efficient service.
Regulars are greeted familiarly, and even newcomers feel right at home. On a midweek evening, there was a congenial mix of families, couples, professionals in business attire, and college kids in sweats, sitting at the bare, green-topped tables with green paper place mats. Singles would feel comfortable here, too, at a table or the six-seat sushi bar.
Our pleasant server Blanca was patient as we mulled over the menu, which also includes a "spa cuisine" section. Slimming soup, anyone? Of course, we wanted sushi, but why stop there? When we expressed an interest in the California style salad ($5.95), she brought that immediately while we continued to make choices.
The salad starter was an enticing taste experience of nutrient-laden seaweed, noodles, and a house-made sesame dressing with a kick of heat. We followed with plump chicken dumplings in spinach wraps accompanied by a zingy peanut sauce, a generous serving of tender edamame, and a house salad ($4.25). If you're craving a large, crisp mix of iceberg and romaine with cucumbers and too-pale tomatoes in an Italian ginger coating, this is your salad. Otherwise, we'd stick with the California style salad.
The sushi here doesn't disappoint. The spicy lobster roll ($13.95) is a fat California roll, topped with lobster chunks and sesame dressing. A traditional dollop of wasabi and ginger adds a rush. And it's always nice to have a choice of light or regular soy sauces.
But the yaki udon noodles ($12.95) sautéed with chicken slices and veggies in a light broth won the comfort-food prize. The kitchen seems to take great pride in dishing out the freshest ingredients for all its courses.
By this time, we had several boxes of leftovers to take home, but we persevered with dessert. It's hard to resist fried bananas in a tempura coating with Neapolitan ice cream ($5.95) drizzled with chocolate sauce. But the surprise favorite was the mango rice pudding ($5.95)—warm sticky rice topped with crushed nuts and surrounded with sticks of fresh mango and plump strawberries. Jasmine tea was the perfect digestif.
This is a BYOB restaurant, but there is a $3 corking fee. You might be better off just bringing your appetite.