An impromptu dinner took Mr. and me to Banana Leaf, the location on West Broadway near Cambie Street. We were in the mood for some good Malaysian food.
We started with two beverages. Mr. being the driver ordered the non-alcoholic Tamarind Juice. It kind of reminded me of the sour plum drink that you order at hotpot places. It’s quite refreshing and great for spring/summer weather. Being on a Saturday, the Blended Lychee Mojito is on special for $6. It had a prominent minty flavour, less of lychee, and I could really taste the rum.
With only two of us, we wanted to try as many dishes as we can, so we opted for the Appetizer Sampler for 2, which consists of a green salad, two chicken satays, two spring rolls, two roti and some calamari. I was expecting an epic platter of everything together, but they came in three different plates. Missed photo op!
First of all, we received two small servings of the Papaya & Pineapple Green Salad. It may look simple, but a bad dressing could ruin it. Not in this case. The lemon grass vinaigrette has a strong aroma from sesame oil which is quite common in Asian dishes; its taste is similar to the jelly fish marinate that you find in many Chinese restaurants. The salad had a good mix of fruit and veggies: tomatoes, bell peppers, papaya, pineapples, and of course mixed greens.
The Chicken Satays were great. Love the fact that they use dark meat so they were tender and moist. They were also well marinated and full of flavours. The peanut dip added a bit of a crunch, and a creamy texture. It’s a must-order for me at any Malaysian restaurant and I would order it again at Banana Leaf.
I liked that the Roti was cut into pieces and slightly scrunched up. It was light and fluffy but with a nice chewy texture. I would like the outside to be just slightly crispier, but fresh roti is always delicious. The accompanying curry dip had a nice curry flavour but not really spicy so it didn’t overpower everything. The Calamari was crispy and tender, not greasy. The Spring Rolls were jam-packed with a lot of shredded vegetables, some cooked to tender and some still with a nice crunchy texture. The sweet chili sauce made a great dipping sauce for both the spring rolls and calamari.
This sampler, for $18, is of excellent value! It would cost us about $10 more if we were to order all these dishes separately, and of bigger portion, but this is just right for the two of us while giving us the variety that we looked for.
For our main, we chose the Rendang Beef Curry. The curry sauce was fragrant with a mix of Asian spices and hint of coconut. It had just the right amount of heat so your tongue wouldn’t go numb afterwards. The beef, like how it’s described on the menu, was very tender and flavourful. We suspected it’s the brisket and it must have been stewed for quite some time.
Of course, with a curry dish we needed some rice. Instead of plain jasmine rice, we ordered the Hainanese Rice. What’s so special about it? It’s cooked with chicken stock (supposedly from cooking the Hainanese chicken, not your canned/carton chicken stock) so it has absorbed all the goodness from the chicken, more flavourful and has a more shiny aka oily appearance. Unfortunately, this one didn’t really have the chicken flavour that I was hoping for and I could barely taste any flavour. Nonetheless, it went really well with the beef curry.
On a Saturday evening, the restaurant was quite busy. It’s a decent sized space, but there were only a few tables left when we stopped by for dinner at around 6:30pm. The servers were attentive and friendly, and the food was served quickly yet we didn’t feel rushed.
Note that they do have a few free customer parking spots at the back, or you can park on the street for rather affordable metre parking (I believe it’s $2 for an hour).
Banana Leaf has been around for almost 20 years and with 5 locations across Vancouver, you know it’s food quality that you can trust. We had enjoyed our dinner, so we will go back for sure and if you haven’t been already, we recommend you to give it a try.
820 West Broadway, Vancouver