Story and photos by Randall Hauk
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
Great news for Admiral District pho fiends: New Leaf Bistro is open, three months after first word that it was headed this way.
Though the green awning above the entrance to the ex-Royal India Grill space at 2342 California SW touts “Asian Cuisine,” the menu predominantly features the cuisine of Vietnam, the homeland of owner Geoffrey Ly.
New Leaf Bistro’s opening menu has 13 items on its entree page, with items ranging from chow mein and fried rice to wok-seared pork belly and grilled salmon. Also on offer are vermicelli bowls, rice bowls, and a trio of salads, along with a sizable collection of appetizers most fans of Asian restaurants will find familiar.
But the centerpiece of New Leaf is the pho, which is available with the traditional beef broth or a vegan-friendly broth and customizable with a variety of proteins.
“Our pho is special. We use only natural ingredients,” says Ly. “Pho eaters can tell when you use the powders for flavor.”
Ly decided to use a “soft opening” – starting yesterday – to help the restaurant and its crew ease into operations while making adjustments to adapt to the business as it develops and grows. “We’re still kind of testing everything,” Ly explains.
Currently, New Leaf is open seven days a week from 11:00 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.. Once the application for a liquor license is approved, however, closing time could be pushed later, particularly if the small lounge area toward the back of the restaurant finds an audience.
Carryout is of course available. Ly says he plans to also offer delivery on a limited basis (within 3 miles for a $30 minimum order), though details are not yet finalized.
New Leaf Bistro is Ly’s second West Seattle restaurant. In 1999, he opened Hunan Express in Morgan Junction (where Kokoras is now, at 6400 ½ California). It’ll be his fifth Seattle restaurant since 1984, after working his way from New York City with stops in Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Texas, and California.
Despite all those travels, Ly is bringing the flavors of his homeland, where he worked with his grandparents in a streetside food-vending operation as a young boy, to the Admiral District. The hard work of running a restaurant is something he learned in both countries.
“When I was young, I was here with no English and no education,” says Ly. “The only thing I knew was to work hard to survive.”