I know fusion dining can be a bit of a buzzword, but for a truly far eastern meal, you can’t go far wrong with Banana Tree restaurant.
I’ve been to a couple of the branches in London, in Bayswater and Angel, and you can’t go far wrong with their food.
The cuisine is from the Mekong region, which for those who don’t know (including me before I did some wiki research) that encompasses Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma, Laos, Thailand and China. So you get a variety of authentic flavours, created by using their specialist dry herbs and spices.
Banana Tree’s décor is dark and oriental street-style chic, with wooden benches and table lights that wouldn’t be out of place is a Cambodian night market.
Great news for me is that Banana Tree restaurant serves halal meat and chicken. However they do also
have pork dishes on their menu. They also have an extensive vegetarian menu for non-meat eaters.
So here’s what we had:
Starters at Banana Tree restaurant
The Malaysian Laksa soup was just delicious. Spicy, creamy and slightly meaty, the soup was a great choice of starter. I normally opt for Vietnamese Monk’s spring rolls, a delicious light, and delicately flavoured cold spring roll filled with lettuce and carrot, but the soup was a nice, warming change.
I was less enamoured with the Chicken and Shitake moneybags. I didn’t really like the minced chicken filling, as it seemed a little unseasoned. I think mincemeat needs to be well-spiced as they absorb so much flavour.
The Ayam Kunyit Chicken Curry was a creamy korma style curry, though a little too-delicately flavoured for my liking. However, what really livened up my main was what I ordered with it, for under £4, I opted for a side of glass noodle salad peppered with cashew nuts and soy sauce, sweet corn cakes with chilli dip, prawn crackers and jasmine rice.
It was so nice to have the variety of flavours on my plate. With the exception of the crackers, which I found a little too hard, everything else was delicious and very filling. The sweet corn cakes were like Indian pakoras, the salad packed a punch, and the rice was fluffy and fragrant.
The Char Grilled Chicken Jawa on the other hand was packed with tangy, spicy flavour, courtesy of its Javanese Spice marinade. To add moisture, the grill came with an oriental chilli and mango salad. This was ordered with a side of Nasi goring rice – jasmine rice fried with Malaysian spices, coriander, cashew nuts, bok choi, eggs and chilli. Now I’ve had Nasi Goreng in Malaysia itself, and Banana tree’s version comes pretty close in terms of authenticity.
Another dish I would recommend, is the 5-spice pepper chicken, a unique flavoursome fried chicken dish served with cashew nuts. On the other hand, a dish I would avoid is the Seafood Kari Santan. It sounds delectable with its concoction of tilapia fish, prawns and fishcakes, however, in reality it was a slightly overpowering, almost bitter fish dish, similar to ‘shutki’ a Bengali dried fish delicacy. Not my cup of tea, however it’s down to personal preference.
Banana Tree restaurant also has an extensive drinks menu, with a couple of mocktails to boot. I opted for the lychee and lemongrass cooler, which contained around half a dozen pitted lychees – my favourite fruit.
So for an impressive Indo-Chinese treat, Banana Tree restaurant is definitely worth a try.
Banana Tree restaurant review in a nutshell
Cost: Between £4 – £6 for starter.
Mains are between £8 – £12, though rice and noodles are extra.
Halal – Yes, though pork is also served at the restaurant. Impressive vegetarian menu and also some
Great if… you want a relatively health but filling and flavoursome meal.
Not so great if… you only want fish for your main. There are only two fish dishes on the mains
menu, one of which I didn’t like. However, you can opt for prawn starters.