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


  1. Nice!! Need to try this place...Have been to a lot of Malaysian restaurants outside Houston and love the flavor

  2. We must go here when we come next! God! Drool over veggie casserole.