Adventures in Eating & Cooking
I’ve been to Banana Leaf in Philly’s Chinatown before and had decent experiences food-wise, but felt uncomfortable by its overly vigilant and suspicious servers. However, this wasn’t much of a problem when I went this past weekend. I had a great time eating with friends.
I made a wise dish selection, the Nasilemak, which came with coconutty rice with curry chicken, spicy cabbage salad, and anchovy-onion salad. I loved every part of the dish, except the onions. (The anchovies were flavored wonderfully though.) The pieces of chicken were tender from marination in a sumptuous, savory curry. The side salads were like a less sour version of kimchi, spiced to a degree that it bursts with warmth and flavor in the mouth. I loved the hint of coconut in the rice. It would have been perfect if the rice was chewier. (It was on the wet side.) But alas, it was pretty authentically Malaysian. I approve.
Other dishes I would recommend from Banana Leaf are Pad Thai, Roti Canai, and most of the other appetizers. During my first visit, I had tried the Indian Mee Goreng, which went horribly. (It tasted like typical Chinese lo mein takeout.) I would say that Banana Leaf’s Malaysian flavors are adequate, but advise eaters to select dishes wisely.
Of course it’s probably ten times better than Lemongrass, a Thai restaurant close to Drexel. We went there a couple of weeks earlier for Steff’s birthday. This used to be a Zagat winner and Best of Philly around ten years ago, but based on the quality of my food I assume that the restaurant has deteriorated.
My Drunken Noodles were poorly seasoned and lacking in the Thai factor. The essential Thai flavors: sweetness, spiciness, spices (like tumeric, chili, galangal, etc.), fruitiness (coconut, mango, etc.) were either absent or faint to the point of blandness. The noodles were pretty much Chinese take-out mei fun, which I could order much cheaper from a food truck. It’s understandable for drunken noodles to taste somewhat Chinese due to its origins, but this was too much.