Thai restaurant Banana Leaf Canteen
75 Battersea Rise
London SW11 1HN
Banana Leaf Canteen
The Banana Leaf Canteen is quite a popular Thai restaurant in the Clapham Junction area. You can often see people queueing. Inside, the tables are like in a canteen but there are also some tables for two and they are quite large. I am sure on a very busy day it is possible to squeeze fit 4 people at them. You can see the kitchen from the dining area. We were sitting by the windows that were open, so I had my back right to the footpath & road.
As starters we had the Thai toast with coriander (minced pork and prawn toast with coriander and oriental seasoning, served with sweet chilli sauce – £3.95) and dark glazed “Chinkiang” ribs (£4.50), described as crunchy pork ribs tossed in sweet, tangy and spicy sauce made from the famous fragrant Chinkiang black rice vinegar.
As main courses, we took Ying Yang Laksa noodles with Thai fishcake (£8.25) – a mixture of wheat and rice noodles topped with our “house special” mildly spiced coconut broth laced with grilled aubergine, tofu and bean sprouts and garnished with lime wedge, coriander and crispy shallots; and Nasi Goreng with cashews & char grilled meat at £9.45. Banana Leaf’s Nasi Goreng is jasmine fried rice with Malaysian blended spices, eggs, cashew nuts, pak choy and coriander. Garnished with lime wedge, mixed salad and crispy shallots, and served with our mild chilli salsa. The nasi goreng is served with a choice between blackened sweet chilli pork or chicken bakar jawa. The blackened sweet chilli pork are slices of leg of pork marinated in aromatic dark soy, palm sugar, chilli, garlic and ground spices. The chicken bakar jawa is chicken thighs marinated in an array of Javanese aromatic spices slowly grilled. I opted for the sweet chilli pork.
The Thai toasts were not very good. They were too greasy and without much taste because of it. The Chinkiang ribs were quite good. They certainly weren’t crunchy as described (unless they imagined we’d eat the bones – which I imagine would be very crunchy indeed…). However, they were tasty with a sauce that tasted a bit peanuty (not spicy-vinegary). They could have used a bit more meat on them, but as a snack to start, were not too bad. It was nice to them to provide wet wipes as it was we needed to eat the ribs using fingers.
The laksa was fantastic – for those who like creamy, spicy food, this is nirvana. It was like drinking a very good Thai red curry. The only complaint I would have about this dish is that the Thai fishcakes were a bit strange – rather like fish-flavoured egg (I only ate half of them) and I have to say that another time (and there will certainly be another time) I would choose the chicken version as I suspect chicken would be much better. The tofu bits were not good, without any flavour. That was a minor part of the dish though, so my overall opinion is still positive (but if you’re going here, I suggest trying chicken or prawns rather than fishcake). The Nasi Goreng was quite good. The blackened sweet chilli pork were tasty, tender and nicely crispy on the outside. A really great meat. The rice was good too, but beware of the red chilli pepper. I chewed on one of them without realising it was a deadly weapon. Lots of beer was required after it and we had in all 4 bottles of Tiger beer (£13). They were cold fortunately, despite the current hot weather.
Thai toast with coriander
Dark glazed "Chinkiang" ribs
Overview of the two starters
Ying Yang Laksa noodles with Thai fishcake
Nasi Goreng with cashews & char grilled meat
Overview of the two main courses
Another view of the Ying Yang Laksa noodles with Thai fishcake
Beware of the chilli pepper!
Cost and conclusion: it was £43.07 with the 10% “optional” service charge included. I prefer when the tip is left fully at the discretion of the customer. The service was efficient, but a little slow when it came to the bill. Whilst we waited, we chatted to a nice guy who was into computers and had a MacBook Air Overall, a good place but do not bother with the starters as they were not that great and the main courses were much better and quite subtantial. Recommended if you are in the area! If you are into pizza, right accross the road you have Pizza Metro which is a good Italian restaurant. Into burgers? There is a Gourmet Burger Kitchen located 2 minutes walk away.