REVIEW w/ pics: Singapore's Banana Leaf
When it comes to dining out, fancy white tablecloths and a trendy ambiance doesn't always mean that there's a great meal to be had. In fact, as many of you may already know about me, I'd rather have exquisitely prepared food and zero ambiance versus a mediocre meal at the swankiest restaurant in town.
Well, swanky is definitely not the word to describe Singapore's Banana Leaf. In fact, it's a pretty simple set up. It's basically a food stand at the Farmer's Market where you place your order at the counter and if there's room, sit down at the benches right in front of their space and wait for them to call your name so that you can pick up your food.
For the particular evening I was there, dinner consisted of 4 dishes that my friend and I shared. First, we had the Roti Paratha which is grilled indian bread served with vegetarian curry dipping sauce. The Roti Paratha was light and crispy and while the curry sauce had good flavor, it was too watery for my taste. I would have liked the consistency to be a little thicker and that way, it would have clung to the bread more. However, the next dish we sampled did not disappoint in any way, shape or form.
Simply, the Rojak Salad with ingredients like cucumber, jicama, pineapple, bean sprouts, apple, tofu and spinach tossed with spicy peanut tamarind dressing is definitely one of the best salads I've ever had. Although the list of ingredients may seem overwhelming, the way the flavors and textures meshed together really just blew my mind. With this one dish, you get fruity, refreshing, crunchy, juicy, sweet, grassy, spicy and tart. My tastebuds were literally applauding with each bite. If you ever make your way to this little stall, this salad is a must-have. It will not disappoint.
The last two items were just as outstanding as the Rojak Salad. First, I really enjoyed the Rendang Chicken. The meat was tender and moist and with it being slow stewed in a spicy coconut, chili and ginger sauce, you can imagine how each bite was a burst of flavor and the sweet-sour vegetable relish that was its accompaniment, paired really well with it.
Then the finale of our meal was the Laksa Soup, a spicy coconut curry soup with rice noodles, tofu, bean sprouts, homemade fish cake, chicken and shrimp chips. On a cold day or night, this would be the perfect comfort food. Chicken noodle soup is so yesterday. The richness broth of that Laksa Soup warmed me from head to toe and tripped the light fantastic across my palate.
I know, I know, I'm waxing a bit too poetically and hopefully, I'm not sounding too over the top in my descriptions, but sometimes, one of your best meals can come from somewhere you may not expect. That's why in my search for delicious food, I never judge a book by the cover. In fact, the rattier the book, the better the read and that's an analogy that can definitely be applied to dining out. So if you're ever in the Farmer's Market, drop by Singapore's Banana Leaf for a meal that is not only memorable, but may hardly even make a dent in your pocketbook and you know what that means? More money for gas! :)
To see pics, go to:
Singapore's Banana Leaf
6333 W. 3rd Street
Farmers Market, Stall 122
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Nice review. I've been here a bunch of times but I started to get weary of the fare -- mainly, tho, bc I stuck with Rendang (personally, I prefer the beef to the chicken) and the Laksa, so it's my own fault.
I've never tried that salad -- I really should branch out!! You made it sound truly delicious.
The thing about the fare is that it *seems* authentic, yet (and I may be a big foggy here) I don't think they *do* use the right noodles for the laksa............ In any case, I've grown to dislike those noodles and feel they let the (otherwise outstanding) soup down.
I love those krupak (sp? shrimp chips - light but greasy tho delicious).
Like the OP, I love it when a place like this serves up a brilliant meal.
SBL has it's detractors and a lot of it is hype-induced disappointment which I can understand as well as anyone. I've had maybe a couple of so-so meals, countless good ones and some that I would be satisfied if it was my last. I was fortunate that my first time there I had a very good experience. Since then, I've made some observations; I'm under the impression that either the best cook works the later shift or finishes strong because my favorite meals usually come late in the day and often when they aren't overly busy.
Speaking of unexpected dining experiences, I dropped into Tara's Himalayan on Venice and they are doing some good things there too. If you like SBL, I think TH would be right up your alley.
Wonderful job, as always on your review and photos. You now have me wanting, (needing) to try the Banana Leaf, which I have never been to. I also will have to order the rendang chicken, instead of the usual beef based version that I get at other places. What did the meal set you back, Abby?