Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Banana Leaves

Well this is a first...and hopefully a last. After intending to try Banana Leaves for months, we finally made it there for dinner on Saturday night. Only hours after we left, tragedy struck in the form of a defective water heater and Banana Leaves burned. Thankfully, the restaurant had closed for the night and nobody was hurt, but I feel very saddened by the destruction that the owners are faced with. Here's our take on Banana Leaves in hopes that it will rise from the ashes.

Riding high following a dramatic regular season college basketball finale, we wandered north of Dupont Circle to Banana Leaves. We were joined by Budak, loyal dining companion and official co-tester of whatever generic pan-Asian place we covet. After sipping on a respectable pomegranate lemonade, we kicked the party off with a trio of appetizers.

While the edamame and seaweed salad were solid, the Roti Canai (Malaysian-Indian pancakes with spicy potato curry sauce) were high-five worthy. B, after drinking the rest of the potato curry (which was meant for dipping, not slurping like a soup), said he could order 18 of these and call it a night. It was a ridiculously good combination of textures and flavors. The super soft and doughy roti pancake made the perfect vehicle for the spicy curry. Before the fire, we were making plans for a return trip to Banana Leaves just to order this dish. I think I'll be dreaming of it every day until they come back. If they don't reopen, I'm tracking down the chef for the recipe. Budak didn't share our love for the dish but that's because he ate 255 straight Indian meals while studying abroad, and curry still makes him shake in his boots. This is the same guy who thought Wok and Roll was a good idea, so take his opinion with a grain of salt.

After the Roti Canai, I knew I'd be let down by my main course but I was pleasantly surprised by the honey peanut noodles that had a fun coconutty sweetness with just the right amount of heat.

B's Banana Leaves rice was more confusing than anything else. The plate combined sweet and sour fried shrimp, curry chicken, an egg, and coconut rice in a banana leaf. Since the plate was flat, you couldn't really mix things together without them falling off. Even if you could, the flavors of the shrimp and chicken didn't match. Anyone know how to eat this dish?

I truly hope Banana Leaves will rise up phoenix-style and bring that Roti Canai back to Dupont's hungry masses.

Second Thoughts From B

It is hard not to mask my heartache following the fire by making inappropriate puns using descriptions like "hot" or "on fire" to describe Banana Leaves. It is also hard to write this post without it turning into an obituary. I think I've succeeded on one account and failed on the other.

Those in mourning often turn to the phrase, "It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." But where does that leave those of us who had just discovered their new love?

Is "love" too strong a word this early in our relationship? Yeah, probably. The reality is that I loved the
Roti Canai, liked the pomegranate lemonade, and was confused by my sampler plate entree. Would I be using the word "love" without the fire? Probably not, but like all of those who left us too early, our feelings are sweetened by nostalgia. So let me say so long to my latest lost love with a tender ode.

Has anybody here, seen my old friends at Banana Leaves -
Can you tell me where they've gone?
They fed a lot of people,
But it seems the good, they die young

I just looked around and they're gone.

Banana Leaves Asian Restaurant & Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Laura said...

banana leaves has been one of my takeout standards for a bit now, and i ordered the roti canai for the first time just last week. it was like heaven, even when delivered and not fresh at the table. if they re-open, i also love the curry laksa.