226 – On The Malacca Melange: Banana Leaf, Trinoma

(AUTHOR’S NOTE: It is with sadness that I update this entry. This branch of Banana Leaf Asian Bistro has folded up for good, a victim of pandemic-triggered business closures. Its old spot has been boarded up as per my last visit. Timestamp: 20 October 2021, 22:08.)

Eating meals served on a banana leaf always evokes a rustic image of a simple life in many countries around the world. There’s more to the lowly banana leaf than meets the eye. For one, it’s used as a sturdy yet biodegradable food packaging material due to its flexible and waterproof qualities. Throw it away once you’re done eating, and it decomposes naturally without harming the environment. Many cuisines around the globe such as Indian and Latin American cuisines use banana leaves to wrap certain foods for both cooking and transport purposes. Aside from being a food wrapper, banana leaves are also perfect for baking pan liners due to their non-stick properties. I still personally use banana leaves to line the bottom of a flat iron whenever I press clothes – a tradition carried over from the days when such appliances were powered by hot coals.

As banana trees are ubiquitous in Southeast Asia, many countries have made use of banana leaves in their cooking. Malay foods such as nasi tumpang (cone-shaped rice with viands) and otak-otak (mashed fish mixed with spices) are wrapped with these leaves, imparting a wonderful aroma to the fillings inside during the cooking process. One need not look far; Filipino cuisine also makes use of banana leaves. The binalot (wrapped) tradition of serving meals comes from the practice of farmers wrapping their lunch in banana leaves, letting them eat under the shade once noon arrives. Dishes such as the Kapampangan tamales and Pangasinense tupig rely on banana leaves to retain their shape. And now that the Yuletide season is near – Christmas favorites bibingka and puto bumbong aren’t complete without the traditional banana leaf, either used as a liner (for the first) or a wrap (for the second.)

Banana leaf meals are often simple yet flavorful. The restaurant in this entry sums up this ethos through its take on a multitude of dishes from Southeast Asia: Banana Leaf. The restaurant has been around since 2001 and has won Best Restaurant accolades twice; first, from 2004 to 2007 and the second instance from 2009 to 2012. It has branches in major malls around the metro, but I’ve only been to a few. I once had lunch with my supervisors at Banana Leaf’s Estancia Mall branch during my previous stint. It had a branch at UP Town Center before, but that has closed down and Japanese sushi joint Aburi has taken its place. This branch in Trinoma mall is the nearest to me, and I’ve dined here for a number of times now. I was supposed to review this one back in 2017, but the lack of a laptop delayed the endeavor by more than two years.

I chose not to take pictures as I might unintentionally capture diners here in the blog, so permit me to describe the interiors in the best way that I can. Spacious seating makes up for the restaurant’s dim lighting, which puts it as an intimate dining place for families, groups of friends, and business colleagues. It’s best to dine at Banana Leaf during daytime, as natural light enters through two corners making the place even brighter. A few staff members wear uniforms similar to the kebaya worn by Singapore Airlines flight attendants, and the front-of-the-house crew make an effort to welcome and thank patrons by greeting them “Selamat datang!” (Welcome) and “Terima kasih!” (Thank you), which is very admirable on their part.

I’ll end my introduction here to focus on what you people are waiting for – the food! Click on each picture to find out my thoughts and comments about each dish.

Simple yet flavorful: this is how Banana Leaf takes on classic Southeast Asian specialties. With two four-peat citations on its belt since 2001, its approach has definitely worked – gaining the admiration of both regular diners and culinary connoisseurs. Visit Banana Leaf’s official website, Facebook page, and Instagram account to stay in the loop with news and promotions.

Enjoying the Thai sticky rice with mango. (My mother took the pic; don’t tell her this blog exists!)

Until the next review, bon appetit and wishing everyone a meaningful Yuletide season!

Banana Leaf Asian Cafe
4/F Garden Restaurants,
Trinoma Mall, North Avenue cor. EDSA,
Brgy. Bagong Pag-Asa, Quezon City 1105

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4 thoughts on “226 – On The Malacca Melange: Banana Leaf, Trinoma

  1. There’s always something about Asian meals. Creative, flavorful and distinct
    Fried / flavored rice has always been a favorite in the family and I love how Filipinos can always create “flavored rice” from leftovers :p

    and as much as I still enjoy dining out, Grab Food has somehow, changed the landscape for me. The app has brought convenience but at the same time, pampered me being an introvert, anti-social or make it simpler, being lazy on some days. :p

    • I’d say that it stems from Asians being rice-eating people? Southeast Asian countries, more often than not, have rice-based dishes – given that it’s the staple crop in the region.

      For food delivery apps such as GrabFood, FoodPanda, and what have you – it works for some, so good for them. But as someone who writes about both food and interiors, I still find dining out as a better option. (Not to mention having food delivered to where I live is rather impractical.)

  2. I love banana leaf and I so love Indian. Gee!!! Forgot to go for the Indian delight when I went over to Kuching that day, more choices, more Indians there. Too many things to eat, too little time!

    • Now that you mentioned it, I remembered my craving for fish head curry months ago! A pity that I can’t find any restaurant here in the Philippines that serves it. 😦 Not even Banana Leaf in this entry has it!

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