Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Banana Leaf : West Broadway location

Banana Leaf and Tropika are two very well known Malaysian cuisine restaurants (well known, not necessarily good). When entering the restaurant, I was somewhat surprised that all the staff were non-Asian. The hostess seated us at a coffee sized table with a black panel on my right side, which separated the table from the entrance of the restaurant. I like the panel because it separates the table from the front door but I felt kind of claustrophobic with the tight seating. Since there were a few (three or four) empty larger tables, we asked the hostess if we could change seats. Unfortunately, she mentioned that those tables are for larger parties (three to four people).

After settling down, I noticed there were actually two Asian staff other than the four non-Asian. I mention this not to sound biased but it seems like they are very selective with the employees. It is understandable there are more employees to cater to the Western clientele, but I find it odd for an Asian restaurant to have more non-Asian staff.

The interior of the restaurant is nicely decorated with little nicknacks, Malaysian related or not. If comparing the interior to Tropika, Banana Leaf lacks that nice higher upscale feeling. The photo on the right was taken from our seat, clearly there are a few empty tables right in front of us and not just in this section.

The peanuts taste roasted with no salt, so no saltiness here which I prefer!

MALAY PAPAYA AND SEAFOOD SOUP, "Pineapple, papaya, tomato and fresh seafood together in this spicy Malaysian soup. Enhanced with tamarind juice, chilli, ginger and lemon grass" ($6.00).

The soup tastes clear, has a light tomato broth flavour, and is slightly mildly spicy along with a hint of sweetness from the papaya. As for the ingredients, there is a mussel, clam, slice of papaya, tomato and basa fish.

STEAMED MUSSELS, "Fresh mussels steamed with ginger, shallots, garlic, cumin and enriched with coconut milk" ($13.00).
The mussels are plump and taste fresh along with juicy. As for the sauce, there is a light garlic broth flavour but no taste of coconut milk. We did not care about the lack of a coconut milk flavour because the mussels are nicely cooked.

CHICKEN ($5.25), LAMB ($3.50) AND PORK ($3.50) SATAY SKEWERS, "Malaysia's most signature stall food. Served with spicy homemade peanut dip".
The lamb and pork satays taste bland, dry and chewy. Oddly, the lamb satay tastes like beef (which may be good for those who do not prefer that gamey flavour). As for the chicken, the meat tastes tender and borderline dry-moist. The accompaniment peanut dip also lacks flavour and the aforementioned spiciness, but there is a nice creamy consistency.

ROTI CANAI, "Flaky layered bread served with coconut curry sauce, one of India's great culinary contributions to Malaysia" ($7.00). 
The exterior of the roti tastes dry with a very hard crisp. Furthermore, the interior has very doughy layers rather than flaky and could have been cooked slightly longer. As for the coconut curry sauce, there is a light curry flavour and tastes watered down. The sauce lacks taste

KAM HEONG WHOLE CRAB, "The entire crab, shell and all, wok-fried in Malay and Chinese spices with dried shrimp, curry spices, oyster sauce, chilli and lemon grass" ($30.00).
The crab tastes fresh but is slightly overcooked. Regardless, there is a lot of seasoning going on along with a hint of spiciness. The lemon grass flavour is lacking and the oyster sauce overwhelms the taste of the spices. I still prefer Tropika's Malaccan curry crab but that is not a fair comparison, it is like comparing deep fried chilli salt with cream and butter sauce crab lol.

PEPPERCORN AND GARLIC KING PRAWNS, "A dish that reflects the diversity of Malaysian cuisine. Whole King prawns, shell and all, wok-fried with Chinese wine and Indian black peppercorn" ($20.00).
The prawns taste watery and there is no natural flavour, most likely because they are previously frozen. In addition, there is barley a salt n' pepper flavour and even the seasoning tastes bland. For the price this is a big disappointment… but hey, at least the prawns are not overcooked! The prawns could have tasted a bit moist though and are borderline dry.

HAINAN CHICKEN, "Poached chicken served with cucumber, sesame oil, peanuts and soy sauce. Served with sides of ginger sauce and chilli-garlic sauce" ($10.00).
The chicken tastes boiled and smothered with a light soy sauce, not Hainan at all. This is probably one of the worst Hainan chickens I have ever had, but at least the chicken tastes tender (although close to tasting mushy). As for the accompaniments, the chilli-garlic sauce tastes generic and the garlic sauce tastes very bland.

So during my birthday dinner, this is what our table looked like (the satays and roti are combined on one plate). The waiter could not fit the pineapple fried rice on our table, took it back to the kitchen, mentioned he will serve the rice to the next table that orders it, and give us a fresh order when there is enough table space.

If a customer asks or a larger table, there is no reason to say "larger tables are reserved for bigger parties" (meaning three to four people) if you know how much we ordered. How does that work if two people order the same, or more dishes than a table of four? Actually, we ordered more than tables of four! I do not blame the waiter because the hostess has control over the seating arrangements and can only blame ourselves for ordering too much. It is just basic customer service skills and common courtesy for the waiter to suggest there may not be enough table space so we should cancel some dishes. Or, it would have been nice if he explained to the hostess that all the dishes will not fit on the table.

PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE, "Fried rice mixed with seafood, chicken, egg, raisins, corn and sunflower seeds. Served in a pineapple boat" ($15.00).
After combining more dishes to make room, the pineapple fried rice made it to the table. The rice has a mild curry flavour along with a hint of pineapple, and plenty of lumpy rice balls. The ingredients could have been properly fused together and the portion of pineapple is very skimpy. I thought the usual amount of pineapple pieces in the fried rice equals to almost half the portion of a whole pineapple? There is barely any pineapple in the rice.

LAMB CURRY, "Boneless lamb shoulder and potatoes stewed in Malay curry made of cumin, fennel and coconut milk" ($16.00).
The lamb tastes semi-tender but dry, and the curry has a heavy powdery flavour. There is not much of a  coconut milk flavour too. I definitely do not recommend the curries. Did I make BF lift up two plates just so I could take this photo? LOL yes.

Banana Leaf overall left a sour taste in my mouth. The food is mediocre and the staff needs some training. We ordered more dishes than the tables of four and because of our small table size when there were clearly more suitable tables for us, we spent majority of the time juggling the plates around. ON MY BIRTHDAY? You have got to be kidding me. We only left like a $13.00 tip too because there was no service and we ate so uncomfortably because of the small freaking table. In hindsight, we should not have left a tip. Furthermore, we had to walk up to the bartender when paying with cash because no one but her was around.

- Seafood is fresh?

- Hostess should be trained and is not friendly

- If seating at regular sized tables requiring a minimum of 3 people is strictly enforced, the restaurant should have at least one side table available
- Very mediocre and average at best food

- Tropika is a better choice; better food and well trained staff
- Kaya Malay Bistro is down the street and serves better food
- Our waiter was forgetful, seemed to be the only one in charge of packing the leftovers for customers, and had to bartend when the bartender left for long periods of time!
- A waitress in a pony tail was sweating her face off running around bringing everyone their dishes. She was also friendly and apologetic for squeezing our dishes at the table (my fork fell due to the lack of table space)

Food: 2.5/5
Service: 1.5/5

Banana Leaf on Urbanspoon


  1. I'm white and agree the servers here are rude and snobby. Following your recommendation I tried Kaya Malay and the service was a lot friendlier and the food tasted great

    1. Glad you liked Kaya! None of the staff members were rude on our visit though, just a bit.. untrained

  2. i avoid this location b/c the staff is not friendly at all and the food is not consistent!! management needs to step up

  3. No offer of dessert or apologies? Typical cheap Asian restaurant

  4. has the restaurant followed up with you? i emailed them regarding an unsatisfactory birthday party and no response



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