This entry is courtesy of Cairns Eye contributor Narelle Muller. I read her review in the Nov21-27 Edition and was struck at how close her thoughts were to my own. I ate there about 6 weeks previous to her and had a very similar experience. So it is a bit of a cheat to publish this, but in my opinion why rewrite what is already well written. Thanks Narelle for your contribution....
When you're offering quality meals at reasonable prices, speedy service is really the icing on the cake. You can tick all the boxes at The Banana Leaf ofnthe Esplanade. Billing its fare as modern Asian cuisine, The Banana Leaf has put many eggs into multiple baskets.
This is all part of its beauty, as there are almost no restrictions. In one dinner party, several pockets of the globe can be visited.
Someone may have a Thai seafood salad ($16.90), while another diner might opt for Chinese-style sweet and sour pork ($22.90). A Japanese favourite, miso soup ($3.50), could precede chicken breasts with ketchup ($19.90). It's all mix and match to your personal preference with no hint of deterioration in authenticity or quality.
Positioned on the site of former Hans Cafe, which in its day called itself a purveyor of authentic Asian cuisine, The Banana Leaf is suspiciously similar in almost every way bar title. This is no bad thing however, as Han's had a reputation for serving excellent food and its new operators are following suit.
Daily specials are posted on The Banana Leaf's street-front chalk board and certainly draw a crowd. On this occasion, hoe mok thalay, seafood in coconut milk and Thai herbs ($19.90), stir-fry prawns and snow peas ($19.90) and deep fried whole chilli fish with special sauce ($25.90) all sound and look mouth watering.
Yellow chicken curry ($16.90), a mild dish served with Thai herbs and potato, is a huge hit with young diners. Stir fried pork with cashews ($16.90) turns out a surprise in terms of deliciously subtle seasonings, tenderness of meat and crispness of vegetables, cooked just right. Spicy beancurd mapo style ($15.90) is a heart-warming soup-style tofu dish with minced chicken.
All require a separate order of rice, which is cheap enough at $5.50 for a large serve or $2.80 for a small portion. Steamed rice with coconut milk is also a snip at $5.90.
Freshness is the first word that springs to mind when describing The Banana Leaf's food. Flavour-packed, yet with clean tastes, each dish is artfully presented.
Heavily staffed, there's no question of waiting too long for anything. While you may have to ask for things like chopsticks or water, requests are met promptly and service is polite. Be sure to check your bill though as on this occasion we were charged for something we didn't have.
Not much has changed in terms of decor since its Han's days. Most diners opt for the pavement to catch the sea breeze but inside is slick and up-to-the-minute with glass, stainless steel, blonde timber, subtle grey artworks and an overall feel of understated chic.
Positioned in the centre of the tourist strip, fellow diners tend to dress down but the surrounds are classy enough for those wanting to mark a special occasion. Whatever the time of day hunger strikes, The Banana Leaf offers good, fast, informal eating.
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