With all the character, flavor and influence of Asian cuisine, I just can’t get enough of it. The color and aroma, as it intertwines with sweet, tangy and spicy flavor is simply irresistible. It’s a testament of the different influences from China, Europe and North America — a tapestry of culture that is very evident, with similarities and yet is unique on its own. I had the opportunity to tour Southeast Asia at Banana Leaf Restaurant as I got to taste the wide range of dishes hailing from the said region.
As I entered the restaurant, I noticed how clean and simple the entire place is. I love that it’s well-lit, with big windows that allows the natural light to illuminate the entire place. They also offer al fresco dining which is quite nice because the place is actually at the topmost part of the mall.
When everyone got settled, our host started ordering food and drinks. While we wait, I was served my buko juice still its shell, with only a small hole opening enough for the straw. It’s also wrapped in plastic. This actually gives me an assurance that my drink was not mishandled. My experience ordering buko juice in this presentation has the top chopped so it can be opened and the young coconut meat eaten. I was told that we can actually have it opened after. I opted not to.
Then our appetizer was served — Roti Canai — a soft bread reminiscent of a crepe in thinness but a cooked longer I suppose. It’s served with curry-flavored dip and condensed milk. Those with sweet tooth will surely love dipping the bread on the latter while others may feel they’re having an early dessert and would rather have the former. I like both, and I dipped my bread alternately. I learned that Roti Canai is of Indian influence but is often found in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Everyone got crazy when the rest of the food was served on the table as we scramble to take photos of it while we ask what the food was about.
Rice and Noodles: Pad Thai Banana Leaf Syle and Nasi Goreng above, and Vietnamese Fried Rice below. I am very familiar with the dishes above that I ended up enjoying the Vietnamese Fried Rice, first because of the presentation, second, because it complemented the rest of the dishes that was served on the table.
Poultry: The Thai Green Curry Chicken with Eggplant and Sweet Basil is enough for a complete meal with the meat and vegetables. It’s spicy, which I love! The Hainanese Chicken has more flavor than what I used to get. I guess it’s because sauce was drizzled over the chicken before it was served.
Seafood: I love seafood, and so I clapped my hands silently when Stir Fried Oat Prawns Singaporean Style, Tilapia with Assam Sambal Sauce and Stir Fried Clams in Singaporean Chili Sauce were served on the table. I think I ate two pieces of the 5 prawns served. Unfortunately, you’d end up disregarding the oats that covered each prawn because you have to remove the shell. Maybe if they already remove it prior to cooking so that the oats would coat the seafood well, and that you’d end up eating everything. I’m sure it’ll have a different character — that crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside experience. The best for me is the Tilapia, beautifully presented and drizzled with sauce. I like the fact that it retained the crispiness despite having the Sambal Sauce.
Last but not the least, of course is the veggie for a complete meal — Stir Fried Chinese Kang Kong with Sambal Sauce.
The dining experience was a feast to my senses. There’s nothing that I didn’t like among the food that we ate, but I do have my recommendations. It was also quite an experience eating on banana leaves instead of a plate. I’m sure to order Roti Canai, Vietnamese Fried Rice, Thai Green Curry Chicken with Eggplant and Sweet Basil, Tilapia with Assam Sambal Sauce and Stir Fried Clams in Singaporean Chili Sauce. Fortunately I can take a tour of Southeast Asia whenever I get the craving because the Banana Leaf also has branches at The Podium, Greenbelt or even Cebu.