Best Thai Pancakes for Vegans

When you bite into the first pillowy hunk of tofu wallowing in the peppered and garlicky sea of one of Green Leaves’ vegan soups, it’s like you’re at the beach in summer, eyes closed and filling up with suffused sunlight. You feel instantly rejuvenated, like Prince Namor plunging back underwater or, if you prefer a DC Comics analogy, Hal Jordan recharging his Green Lantern ring. And the entrées at Green Leaves, which opened earlier this year in Los Feliz, are healthful without being bland, unlike the square fare at so many vegan restaurants. Cauliflower and cucumber contrast with pineapple amid the Sweet-’n’-Sour Veggie dinner’s neatly tangy sauce, and the yellow curry is liltingly spiced without overpowering the natural collusion of coconut milk and potatoes (although some might find the bits of less-natural soy “chicken” stunt doubles to be too realistically chewy).

Green Leaves specializes in Thai cuisine — its Melody Stir Fried vegetables come with red rice that actually looks mystically purple, and fat spring rolls bulge with tofu and glass noodles inside their transparent skin — but the menu also includes a pleasing assortment of lentil and faux-meat burgers and sandwiches, wraps, breakfast burritos, and the lusciously decadent-without-really-being-all-that-decadent wheat-free Tropical Pancakes (with blueberries and bananas), which can be ordered right up until midnight closing. The setting might be nondescript with just a dozen tables and three unobtrusive TV screens centered on a long window looking out onto Hillhurst Avenue, but Green Leaves is a clean, well-lighted-enough place, a psychic filling station. There’s no tell-tale trail of entrails out back, no animal calamity of feathers and blood and guts to sock you in the stomach afterward. As Chick Hearn might have said, “No harm, no fowl.”

Green Leaves 1769 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz, (323) 664-2345

LA Weekly