Monday, September 13, 2010

Houston - Banana Leaf

Where to eat in Houston?

With the desire to eat some spicy lunch and get together with a friend at a casual setting we narrowed down to Banana Leaf, a Malaysian Resto located in China Town. It was selected purely based on my mother-of-all-sources: Yelp! The very idea of a Malaysian cuisine also attracted me - with a fusion of Chinese, Thai, Indian and local Malay flavors it can satiate anyone. Banana Leaf is a small restaurant but they make up for the size with their really extensive menu. They house more than 200 different items that you can order from;the beverage list alone runs to about 18! It caters to a whole gamut of food lovers - from those who are seeking some good comfort food to those in an adventurous mood (Jelly fish Pasembur?)
Those chairs will get occupied during rush hour!

We ordered their famous Roti Canai and Roti Telur, served with a dipping curry for starters. The Roti Canai was really good, I mean you could go there just for this; the Roti Telur is nothing but the Canai which is stuffed with eggs and onions - so a no brainer, another yumm dish.
Roti Canai.....'Parotta' anyone?
Roti Telur - They call it 'lappa' back home!

For the main course we were pretty much flummoxed and overwhelmed on what to order? Should we get the stir-fry noodles or the noodle soup? Maybe the casseroles....wait, they have some sizzlers!? Well then we are not selecting anything from the 100 odd rice entrees?! The fact that we were gobbling up the Roti Canai while we were making this decision didnt help! After a lot of eating and very little deciding over the menu, we selected two items and let our wait staff decide on our third dish. We got the Indian-styled stir fry noodles, Nasi-Lemuk (chicken-anchovies-coconut rice) and the vegetable curry casserole.

The stir-fry noodles was exactly like what you'd find in any Indian-Chinese restaurant - a simple dish made beautiful.
Comfort Asian Food - Stir-Fry Noodles

The Nasi-Lemuk was almost like three dishes in one - it was curry chicken (w bone), chilli anchovies which was essentially anchovies in sambal and a pickle (nope....not pickled cucumber!) served with coconut rice and some hard boiled eggs topped with nuts. The curry chicken was good, very similar to what you would find in South India, but lacking in the spice level. I was having anchovies in sambal for the first time; I think I need to have more sambals before commenting on the one I had. I found it rather mild for my taste; I was expecting the sambal to be very spicy. The anchovies were cooked until it lost it's shape - so for the uninitiated, it could have been anything!
Nasi-Lemuk - a little bit of extra spice would have done the least for me!

 The best dish was the vegetable curry casserole which came in the actual cast iron casserole they cooked it in; they placed it over a small burner which I thought was pretty cool. It was a brothy-casserole rich in curry flavor with the right amount of heat.

Vegetable Curry Casserole...well no baking involved here!
Brothy Curry Casserole - the star of the afternoon

Overall, I'd recommend Banana Leaf to anyone who loves Asian cuisine. Malay food offers a good range of flavors and Banana Leaf is a good start. I'm looking forward to my next meal there - still have 219 dishes to sample!

'Woking' on the good stuff

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Houston - Melange Creperie

Where to eat in Houston?

Crepes - the national dish of France, a standard on breakfast menus is found all over the world; a friend of mine mentioned she ate street-side crepes in Thailand! So if you are in Midtown Houston (Fourth Ward to be exact) and care for some tasty, sumptuous and healthy crepes, Melange Creperie is your answer. Before you head there, be aware that this is no dining experience - this is a one-man-crepe-station on a parking lot! Sean runs the marvelous mobile creperie on the parking lot of Mango's on Westheimer & Taft. You can go online to his twitter account to find out his timings and menu.
His menu consists of no more than 4-5 different crepes - a mix of a few standard crepes along with the seasonal ones. There's the ham-egg-cheese, Texas ratatouille (yes, mixed veggies), banana nutella (nutella goes with anything rt?!) and my fav - toasted coconut and mango! Along with the crepes, Sean dishes out some trade secrets on his ingredients and where he acquired this art - all good marketing strategies. One crepe fills you up pretty good and it cost around 6 bucks - not a bad start to the weekend. I wish he had a pot of coffee going on as well - if you can make crepes on a parking lot, coffee shouldn't be that difficult! Great guy selling some very good crepes.

If I lived in the midtown area, I would be a regular at Melange Creperie . Remember to take a bottle of water, cos he sells only crepes!
Sean - The Crepe Master
Texas Ratatouille - fresh veggies inside a hot crepe
Banana NUTELLA! This was yummm and a crowd fav!
Seasonal stuff this - Toasted coconut and mango! This hit the spot :-)