(This story is sponsored by Banana Leaf.)
Authentic. Delicious. Memorable. Those three words—and so much more—sum up the experience of diners at Vancouver's most venerated Malaysian restaurant.
Since it opened in 1995, Banana Leaf has been offering tantalizing cuisine that reflects elements of Thailand, India, and China, but with tastes all its own.
Malaysian-owned and with five locations in Vancouver, it's the go-to destination for locals seeking flavourful and spicy dishes at reasonable prices.
In fact, Banana Leaf's food reflects the country's history. The roti canai was introduced by Indian migrants and resembles Punjabi paratha. But its succulent coconut dip is pure Southeast Asia.
Nasi goreng, also known as Malaysian fried rice, is earthier and more tangy than Cantonese fried rice. And Malaysian curries tend to be more dense and filling than those in neighbouring Thailand.
These treats, along with its inviting and spacious Malaysian-inspired décor, help explain why Banana Leaf remains a roaring success after more than two decades in business.
This is a restaurant that takes its appetizers seriously. In addition to the heavenly roti canai, the hot and sour soup and tom yung goong are out of this world. The satays—sensuously spiced meat on a stick—are quite simply addictive.
And there's a wide variety of main courses, including vegetarian options, like sambal green beans and wok-fried eggplant and basil, as well as hawker-style noodle dishes.
Our favourite? Savour the mouth-watering kick from the king pow boneless chicken. It's redolent with garlic and chili flavours.
There are also superb seafood entrées, like the yummy jumbo scallops Assam curry and the tiger prawns sambal. This shouldn't come as a surprise, given Malaysians' long relationship with the sea.
One of the charms of Banana Leaf is its imaginative drinks menu, which includes several tropical favourites. What better way to relax with friends after a long day at the office than with a lychee mojito?
If that’s not your thing, there’s also an extensive wine list.
It’s no wonder why Banana Leaf has repeatedly been chosen by Georgia Straight readers as a winner in the annual Golden Plates Awards. In the end, it comes down to those three words: authentic, delicious, and memorable—as well as a whole lot of fun.
There are three Banana Leaf restaurants in Vancouver’s downtown peninsula: 1779 Robson Street, 1043 Davie Street, and 1096 Denman Street. There is also a Banana Leaf restaurant in Kitsilano (3005 West Broadway) and at its original location in the Broadway corridor (820 West Broadway).