banana leaf – so good in my belly

15 Mar

A friend and I decided to try out Banana Leaf which is a super fantastic Malaysian restaurant located in three different places in Vancouver.  The Kits restaurant is very hip and smaller than the Willow and Broadway location which is more family oriented.  Both serve the same menu but the Kits one is definitely more lively.

Everything smelled so good when we entered that it was very hard to decide what to order.  Luckily they had a few prix fixe options and we tried the 8-course set meal at $28.75 per person.  And whoa, did we get a lot of food!

Our starter was a small papaya salad that had mixed greens.  The dressing made my lips pucker and it was a little bit over dressed but the sweetness of the papaya mellowed it out and made a nice balance.

Count ’em, four appetizers: roti Canai, calamari and spring rolls (okay that’s only three but we didn’t know the forth one was coming).  All three were really well prepared with the roti being soft and not too starchy.  The calamari was tender and crispy on the outside and one of the sauces was curry based and went well with all three appetizers.

To our surprise, our waiter came out with a fourth appetizer of chicken satay with a spicy peanut sauce.  The chicken was super moist but the peanut sauce was a little meh.

For our main, we got a great helping of Rendang beef, Sambal green beans, black cod, mussels and scallops, and a side of coconut jasmine rice.  The trio of mains made us giddy just because of how amazing they smelled and how much food was brought to our table.

The Rendang beef is stewed lean beef in rich Malaysian curry spices with coconut milk.  Although the coconut was subtle, the slightly spicy smokey curry went perfectly with the rice.  The beef could’ve been a little bit more tender but I assume it was because the cut was so lean.

With all the meat, it was nice to get a main with lots of crunchy green beans with a blast of garlic and mild chilis.  The shrimp that were mixed in were firm and not those puny ones that look like worms.

If there’s anything I can assume, it’s that Malaysian people know how to cook seafood properly.  The mussel and scallop dish was delicate in flavour with coconut milk and lemongrass undertones.  Perfectly cooked, the seafood was moist, tender and not at all rubbery.

Now the finale…I am always a huge fan of the rich taste of black cod (aka sable fish).  The black cod was deep fried with a light batter (so crispy!) with the flesh being super moist.  It was bathed in a blackish sauce called Kicap Manis which was slightly sweet and gingery.  Two very healthy portions came in our dish.

By now we were fully stuffed but dessert was still on the way.  Two banana halves deep fried in light batter with a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream was a great end to an awesome dinner.  The bananas were warm and gooey on the inside and was great with the creamy cold ice cream.

Atmosphere (Broadway & Willow): 3/5
Atmosphere (Kitsilano): 5/5
Flavour: 4.5/5
Presentation: 3.5/5
Uniqueness: 4/5
Service: 4.5/5
Value: 5/5

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