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Thai restaurant Banana Leaf Canteen 75 Battersea Rise (cnr Northcote Road) Clapham Junction, London
Jul 1st, 2009 by Olivier

Thai restaurant Banana Leaf Canteen
75 Battersea Rise
London SW11 1HN

Banana Leaf Canteen

Banana Leaf Canteen

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

Thai toast with coriander

Dark glazed "Chinkiang" ribs

Dark glazed "Chinkiang" ribs

Overview of the two starters

Overview of the two starters

Ying Yang Laksa noodles with Thai fishcake

Ying Yang Laksa noodles with Thai fishcake

Nasi Goreng with cashews & char grilled meat

Nasi Goreng with cashews & char grilled meat

Overview of the two main courses

Overview of the two main courses

Another view of the Ying Yang Laksa noodles with Thai fishcake

Another view of the Ying Yang Laksa noodles with Thai fishcake

Beware of the chilli pepper!

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.

Banana Leaf Canteen on Urbanspoon

Thai Restaurant The Pepper Tree 19 Clapham Common Southside, London SW4 7AB
Jun 24th, 2009 by Olivier

Thai Restaurant The Pepper Tree
19 Clapham Common Southside
London SW4 7AB
Tel 020 7622 1758

The Pepper Tree

The Pepper Tree

The Pepper Tree

Located close to Clapham Common tube station, the Pepper Tree is quite a popular Thai restaurant by judging the queues outside of it. Inside, it is like a canteen with long tables and benches you share with other people. A little like at Wagamama. Not much privacy, and it is very noisy. There must be some kind of bad acoustic in the room. Anyway, we had to yell to have a conversation.

We ordered the Chicken Satay (Chunks of barbecued chicken on a skewer with peanut dip– £3.15) and the Dim Sum filled with minced pork, prawn and water chestnuts with soy and ginger sauce (£2.95) as starters. The main courses were the Red Chicken Curry (a creamy Thai curry cooked with coconut milk, bamboo shoots and sweet basil – £4.80) and a Pepper Tree Curry (a vegetable curry with Thai aubergines, krachai, fresh chillies, lime leaves and sweet basil – £4.50). We also ordered two portions of steamed rice (£1.80 each) that could be useful in case of seriously hot curry, and two great Singaporean Tiger beers (£2.90 each). Talking about the curry and how hot they can be, the red chicken curry was rated as medium hot while the pepper tree curry was rated hot.

The Chicken Satay with peanut dip was very good. The chicken was nicely barbequed with a crispy outer, but still nice and moist inside and the peanut satay sauce was an excellent accompaniment – not too heavy, nor sweet as is sometimes the case with peanut sauces. The three chicken skewers were quite a generous portion. The Dim Sum were quite good with nice flavours. I quite like Thai cuisine and its abundant distinctive aromas.

The Thai red curry was excellent – one of the best I’ve had. It was lightly spicy, and very nice and creamy – just the way I like it :-) The chicken in this curry was very tender, and had been well marinated in the coconut milk. The dish had many subtle flavours, which were well balanced. I’d certainly order this again. The pepper tree curry was seriously hot! I am into hot food but that one was hot to the point it was difficult to eat. I managed to eat all of it but I suffered. Even two hours after lunch my stomach was still burning. That said, the waiter did warn about it and now I know at the Pepper Tree that hot really means hot! Just as well we had the rice!

They had interesting desserts like yellow beancake (home-made Thai beancake served warm with vanilla ice cream – £2.95) or sliced bananas in warm coconut milk (£2.50) but we did not try them because it was becoming too noisy. It was nice to go out to the Common just in front of the restaurant for enjoying some peace.

Tiger (Singapore) beer

Tiger (Singapore) beer

Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay

Dim Sum

Dim Sum

Overview of the two starters

Overview of the two starters

Red Chicken Curry

Red Chicken Curry

Pepper Tree Curry

Pepper Tree Curry

Overview of the two main courses

Overview of the two main courses

Details of my plate with a mix of the two main courses

Details of my plate with a mix of the two main courses

Cost and conclusion: for about £25 (service charge not included) it is a great place for a quick lunch. The food is good and well priced. The service was fine too. Despite the rush, everything came in time and they were attentive. No need to yell to get the bill 😉 Recommended if you are looking for a quick meal in the area!

The Pepper Tree on Urbanspoon


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