Long Island has lost another old-school Chinese restaurant: Green Leaf in Port Washington, established in 1996, has closed.
Green Leaf was the kind of friendly Chinese restaurant that attracted local families year after year. Owner Simon Liang seemed to know everyone in the sprawling dining room. The menu hewed to a traditional Chinese-American menu — despite adding a sushi bar and a few Thai dishes along the way.
An employee at the Port Washington Wines & Liquors, two doors down, said that the restaurant had been sold and that the new owners were planning on renovating.
I was directed to Green Leaf by the members of The Chinese Quest, who describe themselves as “Five Hungry Jewish Guys on a Quest to Find the Best Chinese Restaurant on Long Island and NYC.” Green Leaf was one of their favorites. On my first visit I had a small but significant epiphany.
I delivered my usual spiel to Liang: “Please pretend we are Chinese. We like bones and heads. Make us what you eat after all the customers go home.” But instead of nodding, he leveled with me. “We don’t cook like that. When we opened we had things like that on the menu, but no one ordered them.” He proceeded to serve us a meal that was not authentically Chinese — Thai soup, fried fillet of flounder with Chinese vegetables, the restaurant’s signature Green Leaf fried rice — but it was delicious.