While I was in Palm Springs I missed a great group dinner with Citysearchers Tara de Lis and Martha Burr. Martha, who has made documentaries in China, had invited a group to her friend Jill's organic Chinese restaurant, which opened a year or so ago. Tucked into one of those innumerable San Gabriel mini-malls that houses a promising-looking Hunan restaurant, a Taiwanese place and a foot massage parlor, Green Zone looks like it should be on the Westside where people clamor for organic food and Eames Eiffel chairs. But since it's located in the SGV, you can feast on wild-caught fish and organic chicken and have enough left over for a blissful hour-long footrub next door.
The menu isn't strictly Chinese -- it's more like fresh, light food with a mix of Chinese and Japanese dishes.
You can, and should, start with a mixed appetizer plate with prawn tofu wraps, salmon triangles and shrimp roll. We particularly liked the crunchy cigarillo-like shrimp rolls stuffed with cabbage and shrimp paste. Since it was blustery outside and Kathy was hoarse from her Sundance ordeal, we had a big bowl of soothing wonton soup with Taiwanese-style noodles, wontons and dumplings. The wontons were luscious, stuffed with really flavorful shrimp, with no msg in the deeply-flavored broth. Next time, I could have just bowl of the wontons and be happy.
We also had grilled organic tofu with a savory sauce and a dish of organic broccoli. Then we tried a seabass salad (pictured at left), at $6.25 and Hainan chicken rice (at right), made with Mary's chicken($6.75). I loved the garlicky lemongrass rice and the ginger chili sauce the chicken was served with.
Also on the menu are beef sukiyaki hotpot, seafood pasta, beef or vegetarian soba and even a tuna sandwich and guacamole. All the servers, including Jill's Abercrombie-clad teenage daughter, are exceedingly friendly and helpful, and the tranquil modern-woodsy decor is a welcome change from the fluorescent uniformity of other restaurants in the area. To drink, there's organic juices, sodas and teas, or byob.
Green Zone is a real gem, a great alternative when you've had enough dim sum and bahn mi to burst and want something clean and light. And leave time for a little foot action afterwards.
534 E. Valley Blvd. #5