South Bay: Banana Leaf

Before my sister left for her second year of undergrad at JHU, we decided to take her out to dinner.  We called up ahyi, went through our usual indecision about where to eat, and finally somehow ended up at Banana Leaf:

Banana Leaf has always been uber popular.  I'd only been once before about ten years ago, so when we rolled up this time, I was surprised to find that not only is it more popular than ever (check out the wait!), Banana Leaf has also expanded and bought out the space next to it.

I didn't remember the food being THAT good, so I was curious to give it another try.

We started out with the roti prata...two of them:

Good curry sauce, typical roti.  Delicious.

My sister wanted pineapple fried rice:

It was good, but failed to set itself apart from all the other pineapple fried rice I've had before (and there used to be dad went through a phase).

We got the hokkein char mee, which is thick wheat noodles served in traditional caramel soy sauce with prawns:

It was a little salty, but I loved it.  The noodles were Q and the sauce was great.

Our server recommended we order the Singaporean black pepper eggplant and string beans:

The star of this dish wasn't the veggies, but the black pepper sauce.  Gawd, it was good.  I could eat that with rice.  Or without.

I've been a huge fan of rendang since CL introduced me to it in Berkeley, so I order it whenever I get the chance:

It wasn't spicy at all, which while being a bit of a relief to me, was also a bit of a disappointment.

A good way to figure out what you want to order is by looking at what is on the tables surrounding you.  However, perhaps it's not such a great idea to continue looking after you've already ordered.  Because wandering eyes lead to over-ordering, which often leads to overeating.

It was our wandering eyes which led us to ask our server about the noodle soup we saw on the table next to us.  I was a little hesitant to order anything more, but when the server, with a skeptical look on his face, noted that we already had a lot of food on our table, it became a matter of pride.  We ordered it:

It turned out to be the seafood curry laksa mee, which is a red curry noodle soup.  There were two types of noodle in it, one thick and one thin:

It was alright, but not my favorite of the evening, though I always enjoy lemongrass in my soup.

We could have packed food to go, but because our server had questioned our ability to eat, we toughed it out and finished everything.  Scary, I know.  Even scarier is that my ahyi still wanted to look at the dessert menu.  Apparently, she still had room in her stomach.  My mom, my sister, and I were an entirely different story.  We were STUFFED.  We glanced through the dessert menu anyway and persuaded ahyi to end the meal without dessert.

When our server came back to ask us what we decided for dessert, we politely returned the menus and told him we were going to pass on it.  He immediately whipped out our bill from some secret pocket and walked away.  WHAT?  It became a pride thing again.  He obviously assumed - albeit correctly - that we wouldn't be able to eat dessert.

I had half a mind to call him back and order something, but ultimately decided to let it go.  Breathe in...breathe out...

Pride is a dangerous thing.  Especially for your thighs.

At the end of the day, Banana Leaf was good.  But I'm not so sure it's good enough to merit the wait outside.

Banana Leaf
182 Ranch Dr
Milpitas, CA 95035
(408) 719-9811


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