Portland >Food & Dining > Bay Leaf Restaurant
4760 SE Division St, Portland, OR | Directions 9720645.505297 -122.613406
Neighborhoods: Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Program, Richmond
Delicious and very reasonable price. As others have said, I'm not vegetarian but this food is great. The first time I came in for lunch with brother and niece we tried three difference dishes and couldn't decide which we liked best. Have now been there four times (I think lunch is $5.95) always perfection with perfect presentation. Lunch comes with soup and their awesome mixed rice. Place is supper clean. Unfortunately business is slow so come in now to support this place. We don't want to lose it! PS - try the fried mushrooms.
Terrific Food! – My wife and I have been eating at Bay Leaf ever since we moved to the Portland area a year and a half ago. I am vegan, my wife is not. We have brought many non-vegetarian friends. Everyone we brought has loved it. The food is terrific and thoughtfully presented. The atmosphere is very pleasant. The restaurant is very clean. The waiter and owners are very kind and friendly.
They have a great lunch special. You get this awesome sweet and sour soup and along with a full meal from the lunch menu for only $5.95. I recommend the eggplant with spinach or the sesame tofu. Both are delicious.
This is not your ordinary Chinese cuisine. It is more in the tradition of Taiwanese vegetarian which is generally more elegant, healthier, with more subtle and deeper flavors.
Healthy and Delicious – I am always impressed with the quality of food served at the Bay Leaf. The vegetables are always cooked just right, not overdone, and the flavor is always well balanced, not too salty or saucy. It's unique in that it is a fusion of Asian fare and an all vegetarian menu. However, I have brought many non-vegetarian friends who have all been very happy and wanted to return. I have never seen the restaurant too crowded and it has a quiet, peaceful feel so it's not a place to see and be seen but this I consider this a positive attribute. Several of my favorites are the garlic eggplant, dumplings, and the winter stew. It is very affordable, and the lunch menu is an even better value. I highly recommend it.
Good Vegetarian Asian That Could Use a Little Sizzle – I am from Seattle visiting relatives in Portland.
*Ambiance and Service*
Bay Leaf is decidedly zen-like: serene, peaceful, Chi- and Feng Shui-friendly. We were quickly seated by a kind waitress. Service was slow and sometimes sparse, but friendly. One never wants to have to leave one's chair to get a water refill.
The lettuce wraps were fresh but on the dull side, needing a dipping sauce with zip. The hot and sour soup was fresh and flavorful (served in a modest bowl not the large family-sized bowls). My daughter, who's a hot and sour aficionado, enjoyed it. My son gorged on the fried tofu, which was done right. The spring rolls were excellent -- fresh, crisp, flavorful with a perfect dipping sauce. Surprisingly, no mustard available.
The entrees were mixed. Our yam lover ordered the yam plate. From my vantage point, it looked lovely and delicate but definitely not filling. Yam lover eventually sought donations. My mother ordered the phad thai and it rocked. My sister and niece shared a hot-pot and tempura. The hot-pot looked tasty, though no one seemed too excited about it. The tempura was crisp, generous and well worked over.
I ordered the crisp eggplant and was the envy of the table. The plate was large and loaded with round deep friend eggplant slices covered in a dark, tangy, sweet garlic sauce. I didn't recognize the batter but that made the dish interesting. The sauce was too sweet but I put that out of my mind and just gave in to the dark side.
Rice comes either white or brown. All food was served on nice china (or whatever you call plates, cups, etc.) -- definitely no plastic in sight.
Surprised by the bill -- $81. I was expecting high $60s considering there was only one beverage , no desserts and no animals harmed. The overall consensus was 3 1/2 stars but I'm only giving 3 stars since if I lived close to the restaurant, I would visit occasionally, but not regularly.
Lots better places for vegan food – We eat a lot of Asian food of all types, and this is not a restaurant that we will return to. The food was definitely bland, but - worse - it lacked flavor. The green papaya salad lacked the kick that is normally associated with that dish, and the green curry was just tofu and a few vegetables swamped in a thick, flavorless sauce that bore little resemblance to green curry that I have had at a dozen different Thai restaurants around town - it was hard to tell if there was any curry in it. No one in our group had a dish that they really liked and would go back for. It's too bad because we are always looking for places that do justice to vegan diets, but Bay Leaf is not one of them. One note: the rice was actually very good, but we got a soup-bowl sized serving for 8 people.
Nice Place Bland Food No Beer – We tried this place on a Friday night. We were seated promptly and the menu looked great other than they have no wine or beer. We ordered the spring rolls and fried tofu for and appetizer. The tofu was fried very nicely but the tempura dipping was so bland. The spring rolls looked great as well but the dip was very bland.
For dinner we ordered the Special of Golden Tofu in Kung Pao sauce and lo mein noodles with veggies for our kiddos. After tasting the appetizers we were only hoping the entrees would be more aspiring on the palate. Dinner arrived in a timely manner and like we predicted was very bland. The Kung Pao tofu dish had 10 small pieces of tofu in very bland sauce that had no resemblance to any type of Kung Pao I have ever tasted. Soon after we requested some hot sauce, or any sauce, which they never returned with.
In addition we have 2 children so with our 10 pieces of tofu we divided them up, two for each of the kids and 3 piece of us. We had more with the tofu appetizer. We have limited family time and wasted it at this place. I know as vegetarians we try to be healthy but everyone enjoys spices and flavor as well as a good microbrew on a Friday evening.
Great Vegie Asian Food – Contrary to prior reviews, my experiences have been great. The food and service have been improving over time, they have a nice tea selection, and delicious hot pots! The vegies are always cooked perfectly, they use excellent tofu, and have great vegetarian hot and sour soup. For all the 'vegetarians' who feel the papaya salad tastes different than their favorite Thai restaurant, the missing ingredients are fish sauce and dried shrimp. Its nice not to worry about sauces with fish sauce, soups with beef stock, or having dried shrimp incorporated into the dishes. I always look forward to my next visit and trying something different.
Bewildering Blandness. – I gave Bay Leaf a try shortly after it opened a few years ago and was dissapointed. A very picky vegan friend had a 20+ person event there last month and raved, so I figured it was time for a second chance.
I spent thirty-six dollars on a one person "feast" of dumpling appetizers, papaya salad, tofu with snowpeas and mushrooms, and crispy eggplant. Sitting on the couch, five minutes into the meal, I was bewildered. nothing had any distiginushing flavors! The papaya salad was ok, but something in it was "off" compared to what i've had a various Thai establishments. The dumplings were very doughy, and the mush inside didn't really taste like anything. The tofu dish included silken tofu that just sat gelatinously atop the dish like an afterthought. Greens are sacred to me, they need to be cooked delicatedly. The greens (I couldn't even tell what they were) on the tofu dish had been overcooked to the point of green slime. The crispy eggplant wasn't crispy but mushy, with a very bitter aftertaste.
I've been a vegan in Portland for six years and have come to love the simple, honest flavors that can be found in Thai and Asian-influenced establishments around the city. Unfortunately those flavors can't been found at bay leaf which relies on flashy ingredients and a sensationalized menu to carry it's bland offerings.
Flavorful and filling – Went with a friend and her twin girls for a saturday lunch. Food was amazing (my friend is from Malaysia and likes it spicy. The Bay Leaf didn't dissapoint) and flavorful. We had the tofu hotpot, tofu fries, pad thai, (spicy!) house fried rice ( I CRAVE this rice!) and jasmine tea. The hotpot had a wonderful broth that my friend said was a familiar spice that she didn't know the American name for it. Food was enough to feed two adults and two growing 7 year old girls. We cleaned our plates.
Service was excellent, atmosphere quiet and pleasant, with plenty of parking. Easy to find. This is a Mom and Pop restaurant that deserves to be patroned.
Good Asian Fusion Food – I don't think this restaurant is as bland as others make it out to be, because I've never viewed this as a traditional Asian veg restaurant. Having had a substantial fare of authentic Asian food (both as an omnivore and now as a vegetarian), I can that this restaurant is more Asia fusion veg. Having said that and having categorized it as such, this is a good Asian fusion veg restaurant. It is a little more on the pricey side and portions could be bigger. Presentation is good, and you're paying for the ambiance (this is one of the nice veg Asian restaurants in town). My favorite Asian veg restaurants in town and which one I decide to go to, depend on my mood. If I want an Asian fusion dinner w/ a nicer ambiance, I go here. If I want good "traditional" Asian veg food and don't really need all the ambiance, I go to Van Hanh.
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