Lemongrass Chicken Salad at Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop - Costa Mesa
“Salad isn't food. Salad comes with the food. Salad is a promissory note that something good is going to happen...”
It’s something you eat not necessarily because you want to, but because you want to say you did. But I’ve eaten plenty of salads. I love salads...provided it has things in it that can be loved. My favorite salad is the Indonesian dish gado gado, which is technically called a salad but has tofu, hard boiled eggs, and a peanut sauce that can make anything it touches edible. In fact, there are a lot of Indonesian dishes that are technically salads. It's just Indonesians don't have a word for salad. Salad is food. Food is salad. My unproven hypothesis is that the word “salad” exists only in meat-centric societies that needs something to describe a food that contains mostly vegetable.
The lemongrass chicken salad I had recently at Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop, which has made a name for itself in making salads, is another salad in a short list of Western World salads I’ve enjoyed. When I ate it I felt good about myself. Perhaps it’s because the restaurant is designed to make you feel good about yourself and your dietary decision to eat there. There’s a working garden outside and non-HFCS soda dispensed in the drink fountains. The place looks like a log cabin built by hipsters.
The salad I ate has chicken, but it was beside the point. This salad would have been good without the chicken. What makes it a great is everything else, including the tender, delicate baby mixed greens, the mango, the grilled pineapple, the jicama, the toasted coconut, the cashews, and most of of all, the lychee vinaigrette that has hints of Thai chili, Thai basil and yes, the perfume of that magical herb, lemongrass. This is a salad that's more than a promissory note; it's a salad jackpot.
Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop
234 East 17th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
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