In The Green Zone
The San Gabriel Valley rules for authentic Chinese food. But finding healthy options can be like searching for a chopstick in a haystack. Many places use MSG, and ingredient-sourcing is often way less than transparent—especially if you don’t speak Mandarin. Green Zone, an organic Asian restaurant with Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese influences, has been a rare bastion of clean dining in San Gabriel since 2006. Now with their new location in Pasadena’s Old Town, you can enjoy their fresh fare without heading so deep into the Valley.
Though the neighborhood is tonier and the contemporary décor is sleeker, the food at the Pasadena location maintains its real-deal integrity. Hainan chicken rice ($10) is the house specialty, and it’s a super-clean version with organic chicken breast flavored with fresh ginger scallion paste and garlic chile sauce and served over lemongrass rice or wild rice.
To us, though, the stars of this show are the abundant vegetarian dishes that let the restaurant’s organic produce shine. Grilled organic vegetables ($10) is a bright assortment of eggplant, zucchini and squash served with yakitori sauce, while vegetarian sukiyaki combines mushrooms, cabbage, broccoli and more in a sizzling Japanese-style hot pot ($14).
The generously sized salads are brimming with crisp produce; standouts include wild-caught sea bass over organic greens with flaxseed and dried berries ($16). Wash it all down with a wide selection of organic teas ($4 to $6).
And it almost goes without saying: This is a MSG-free zone.
34 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena