Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Banana Leaf: Bringing Fine Asian Cuisine to Davao

Banana Leaf is an international restaurant that has introduced the best of Southeast Asian dining to the local palate. Their offerings include a wide range of cuisines including Thai, Singaporean, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and Indian to ensure that Asian cuisine lovers will get their fill of authentic and satisfying dishes without the need to travel to any of the aforementioned countries. The authenticity of their dishes, which they proudly dub as their signature creations, stem from the fact that they source their ingredients from countries with which the dish originated from. Yet, they've managed to incorporate their own touch to these dishes to make them unique from other Asian fusion restaurants in the country.

Davaoenos are lucky to get the opportunity to sample their dishes as they open a new branch in SM Lanang Premier. I got the opportunity to try them for the first time when I went to SM last weekend. And it was surely one heck of a meal, if I must say.

The distinctive ambiance also helps to set the tone for the dining experience. They use a lot of the Asian colors and design elements ranging from white, to green, to beige. It is also clear that they took out a few design inspirations from a wide range of Southeast Asian sources and incorporated that into the restaurant's interior. If I had one qualm about their new branch in SM Lanang, though, it would have to be the small restaurant area. It can get a bit too crowded during peak hours (usually dinner time) with the tables being much smaller than I would've preferred, which can be a big deal if you're dining with family.

I got to sample a few items off of their menu, but I can assure you that there are quite a hefty amount of options in there. From delectable appetizers, to seafoods, to vegetables - there is something for everyone here.

First off is their Vietnamese Prawn Ball with Cheese (P 168) for appetizer. This one is a different kind of prawn ball from what I tried at Zabadani Cafe. It comes with more crunch on the outside and a soft (and warm) interior with the mozarella cheese oozing as you bite into the middle of each ball. If you're not big on salty foods, though, I warn you that the cheese filling can add a bit more saltiness to this dish. But they serve it with a dip that can help to cut a bit of that saltiness.

Another dish that I've tried at Banana Leaf in SM Lanang and one that I would highly recommend is the Stir Fried Oat Prawns Singaporean Style (P 338). The prawns here are cooked to perfection. There is crunch on the outside from the oats sprinkled all around the prawns while the prawn meat is juicy on the inside. It's also a good indicator that the meat is fresh! There is also a hint of spicyness to this dish, although it's very subtle that someone like me who doesn't eat anything spicy would still be able to enjoy this dish. In fact, I might order this again on my next visit.

Since both of the above dishes are not served with its own rice, I also ordered their Penang Fried Rice (P 168). This serving is good for 2-3 persons. To quench after the meal, Banana Leaf's Iced Milk Tea Hongkong Style is the perfect drink to sip. It is light and refreshing. Undeniably, one of the best milk teas I've had. You can get an order for P68 only.

With a slew of new restaurants in SM Lanang and in Davao, Banana Leaf deserves a spot among those that you need to visit. Our dining experience there was rather spontaneous. But I did not regret a thing. I will be back for sure.

Banana Leaf is located at the Ground Floor, fronting the Fountain area, of SM Lanang Premier.

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