Banana LeafPosted: 02/13/2012
Lately I’ve been getting home a bit later and haven’t had time to enjoy my mom’s cooking as much as before. Also, I’ve been eating out quite a bit–so much for February, month of midterms, huh? Already weathered 2 midterms, got one more and a term paper due the week after Reading Break! (What kind of term paper is due in February, right?) Anyways, I digress–on to the real post.
If you live in Vancouver, you’re probably familiar with Banana Leaf, a chain restaurant specializing in Malaysian food. I’m not sure how authentic Banana Leaf is, but to be honest, I have trouble recognizing authenticity in any type of ethnic restaurant (well, except Korean, I guess). All that really matters to me is how the food tastes! I’m not a picky eater (well…kind of.)
This random trip to Banana Leaf (the Fairview location) happened on a Wednesday night. One of my friends is moving back to Korea soon and organized a somewhat impromptu goodbye dinner. We ordered five dishes to share, plus a dessert, for five people.
Our first dish was the Mango Salad. If you know me in real life at all, you’ll know I’m not a huge veggie or salad or even mango person… but this wasn’t too bad, although it was a smaller portion than I would have liked. The salad consisted of julienned mangoes, carrots, cucumbers, and also red onions, fried onions, and peanuts, doused in a house vinaigrette. I think it worked texturally with the smoothness of the mangoes contrasting with the crunchiness of the onions. It was a nice and refreshing start to the meal, although I’m not so sold on the peanuts… Banana Leaf provides complementary peanuts at the start of the meal, so I guess I was peanut-ed out by the time the salad came. But all in all, the ingredients complimented each other and tasted fresh!
The next dish was the Curry Boneless Chicken. This arrived with a bowl of rice, which you can see in the picture of the prawns below. Flavour-wise, the curry was not too spicy or strong, but quite mild and creamy. Personally I like my curries a bit spicier. There were bite-size pieces of boneless chicken in a coconut cream sauce, accompanied by green beans, okra, and red peppers. I found the chicken a tad dry, and the curry itself not too memorable.
Next, the Sambal Chili Prawns. These were tiger prawns in a spicy sauce with chunks of tomato and red peppers. (And you can see the rice that arrived with the curry in the background!) Maybe I’m just stupid but I failed to tell the tomatoes and peppers apart and just bit into the pepper. Oh well. Anyways, the sauce was both spicy and a little bit sweet, but not going too far in either direction. Enjoyable, but not all too unique, I would say.
PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE! Once again, if you know me at all, you’ll know I absolutely love fried rice. It’s pretty much the only thing my mom doesn’t make well–well, she does make a good fried rice, but she uses Korean rice, which is sticky and doesn’t have the same texture. This particular version included chunks of fresh pineapple, seafood (I saw baby scallops, don’t know what else), raisins, chicken, and egg, among others. Compared to the version I had at Tropika a while back, I’d say I prefer this one–maybe just because I love scallops so much. The rice was cooked perfectly while not being mushy, and the variety of ingredients created an interesting mixture. The only concern I have when I eat this dish is whether or not they reuse the pineapple shell…
Singapore Laksa: Rice noodles in a coconut soup base, with egg, shrimp, bean sprouts, fish cakes, and squid, among other ingredients. Similar to the chicken curry above, there was no real strong flavours. The broth was simply creamy and a little rich, but we all enjoyed this very much. We ended up drinking the broth on its own once the noodles were all gone. The noodles were al dente, and I really enjoyed the crunchiness and snap from the bean sprouts along with the smoothness of the noodles. Would probably say this was one of my favourite dishes of the night!
Usually when I go out for dinner, I tend to skip dessert at the restaurant. If I’m in the mood for something sweet, I’ll stop by a McDonald’s and grab a strawberry sundae. For some reason, the five of us decided to share one dessert: a fried banana with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, peanuts, topped with a maraschino cherry. Banana Leaf’s website refers to it as Pisang Goreng. I’m a sucker for anything fried (you’re probably noticing a theme here…I’m hugely unhealthy in my eating habits). The crispy exterior of the batter was well complimented by the warm banana inside, as well as the cold ice cream. Also the banana itself wasn’t too soggy, which is always a plus!
All in all I’d say the dinner at Banana Leaf was pleasant and I’d want to return to try some more of the dishes–although I was getting kind of tired of the peanuts after a while. Thanks for reading, happy midterms!
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