Discover Bethesda, Maryland...365 Days a Year!

Day 122: Green Papaya Vietnamese Cuisine

Green Papaya

When you’re looking for a fresh, healthy, affordable dinner option that offers unique & complex flavors, try Green Papaya located at 4922 Elm St. in Bethesda.  Yesterday evening, I was craving something “different” and, after some coaxing, convinced Mr. Meat and Potato Man (a.k.a. Brian) to live a little and try Vietnamese food with me.  With some trepidation, he kindly indulged my cravings.

Green Papaya incorporates the principles of feng shui into the atmosphere of the restaurant with the “waterfall wall” in the bar area and the “fire wall” in the restaurant area.  The artwork throughout was carefully selected by the owner  showing scenes from Vietnam.  The restaurant has an intimate, relaxed atmosphere overall and the full bar offers some great options for drink selections of all kinds.  (The bar is a great place to pass some time with a drink of your choice while you wait for take out!)

Fresh Rolls #4 on the menu

One of my favorite items at any Vietnamese or Thai restaurant is an appetizer called “fresh rolls.”  I had a neighbor who was from Vietnam and she made the most amazing fresh rolls ever!  I was so happy to see that Green Papaya could deliver.  On their appetizer menu, they have 4 different types of fresh rolls and we chose the type that included a fresh rice vermicelli wrap (NOT fried), prawns, and mixed greens and cilantro, a flavor sensation.  The fresh rolls are dipped in creamy peanut sauce.  The only thing I don’t like about fresh rolls is how fast they disappear on my plate!

Chicken curry with cilantro

Although I seem unable to deviate from my curry habit when visiting a Vietnamese or Thai restaurant, I will say that Green Papaya makes a killer chicken curry!  It is spicy and delectable with complex flavors and yes, more cilantro.  I can’t help it, I just love that!  It is served with a delicate white rice that compliments the coconut milk curry sauce beautifully.  I’m not sure what kind of potatoes they use in the curry but they were also noticeably flavorful and fresh.

No surprise that Mr. Meat and Potato Man ordered…you guessed it, meat and potatoes!  He selected the Bo Luc Lac with stir-fried cubes of tender beef with fried potato, onions, over mixed greens and black lemon pepper sauce (the special that night used filet mignon).  He ate and enjoyed every bite!

Bo Luc Lac "meat and potatoes"

But we were delighted to find that the best of this meal was yet to come – dessert!  When we asked for a menu,  the waiter smiled and said, “the [dessert] menu is in my head!”  But he had some great things stirring around in that head of his.  His top suggestion was one part cinnamon ice cream (that alone was very tasty) accompanied by fried banana flambé!  He brought to our table two bananas coated with honey and then proceeded to light them on fire in front of us – blue flames danced around the plate as he skillfully tossed them around carmelizing the sweet banana coating.  Be warned, the bananas are HOT after this treatment so that first bite should be made with care.  But the hot, honey covered banana is absolutely creamy and perfectly complimented by the very cold cinnamon-flavored ice cream.  That dessert alone is a great reason to stop by.

One of the best things about this meal was the price!  Our entire dinner was only about $50 (not including two glasses of wine).  For Bethesda, it’s a steal for two people to have an appetizer, two entrees and dessert at that price!  Green Papaya is a terrific dinner destination and a perfect take-out option too.  Don’t forget to order fresh rolls!     Let us know what you love best at Green Papaya.     ~Amy 

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