Vietnamese gone elegant adds to the allure of this high-ceilinged dining room with bamboo fans, a glistening wall of water, and marble icons. The menu pays tribute to both traditional and inventive, and hot chilies are a mainstay. Lotus with shrimp and green papaya clocks in as the best of the salads, though beef with lemongrass and green papaya with spicy beef jerky aren't far behind. Among the soft rice-paper rolls is a stellar combination of lemongrass pork, rice vermicelli, and greens. Charbroiled ground-meat-filled grape leaves are a close cousin to Middle Eastern dolmades, and golden-brown quail with black-pepper sauce makes a fine starter or restrained main course.
Caramelized dishes are among the most popular Vietnamese plates; Green Papaya offers several--the standard chicken and shrimp along with more unusual Chilean sea bass and lemongrass-scented duck. Look for such specials as baby clams studded with black-sesame crackers, and curried prawns with green beans and eggplant. And don't miss spicy basil shrimp fried rice, eons away from the drab heap from the local Chinese takeout. Besides traditional quenchers like sparkling fresh lemonade and a native green soybean drink, there's a respectable wine list.