Banana Leaf was one of the restaurants that I never had the inkling to try. It’s been in Greenbelt 3 for quite some time now but the idea of eating “fusion” just hasn’t felt appealing. It basically rings “Filipinized other-country cuisine” to my ears. So, what basically persuaded me and my friends to eat there last Saturday was the promise of a 15% discount through the use of a BDO credit card. Well, I started out open to the idea because I always welcome new experiences.
But the whole thing did not go well.
We went inside the restaurant first and checked out where we’d be seated, since Juvy warned us that we’d be smelling like food after. And because we’d be seated closest to the kitchen, we asked for a table outside instead. Thus, we settled ourselves in our outdoor table but Moche and Espe noticed that their table was wet. So, they asked our waitress, DJ, for some tissue to wipe it with. But since I got some tissue with me, they were able to dry the table before she could come back. I noticed that she was only holding four table napkins and no sign of any extra ones to wipe a wet table with. I let that slide.
After setting our table mats and utensils, our wonderful waitress just left three menus on our table. On a pile. She did not hand it out to us, one by one, like how it’s normally done. She just showed us her back without a word and stalked off. We were checking out the menu and deciding on which to order when she came back to put in the banana leaves we’d use as plates. I had the brilliant idea to ask her what their bestsellers were. And she so graciously replied, “Lahat po ng may picture sa menu bestsellers (Everything with pictures on the menu are bestsellers).” Again, she artfully showed us her back and walked away. For the record, all the items under the ‘Noodles’ heading had pictures. Come on, they can’t all be bestsellers.
Good thing though that another waitress came over to help us order. She was more personable and was really great to point out which dishes we should order. She recommended the following: Crispy Spring Rolls Vietnamese Style, Pad Thai – Thai Style, Stir Fried Mixed Vegetables with Salted Fish Thai Style and some Steamed White Rice.
The first food to arrive at our table was the Crispy Spring Rolls Vietnamese Style (P138). The dish was made up of three normal-sized fried spring rolls, craftily cut in half for presentation (and probably so they can say it’s made up of “6 pieces” when asked) and served with sweet chili sauce. DJ was kind enough to give us extra sweet chili sauce without our asking. Anyway, when I sampled roll, I couldn’t tell what the ingredients were because it tasted a bit funky to me. My friends told me it’s made up of bamboo shoots (ubod) and Moche told me the cooking oil they used was old. I did not take another bite of that thing.
I wanted to get rid of the taste in my mouth so I tried the Stir Fried Mixed Vegetables with Salted Fish Thai Style (P198) next. When it was first placed on the table, I was surprised at the serving size because it seemed too small for the price. Anyway, it was okay but on the salty side. It’d be best eaten with the rice – which turned out the be the only good food that we’d be having from Banana Leaf that night.
Last was the Pad Thai – Thai Style (P188), guaranteed to serve 2-3 people. But because it was super spicy, the four of us had to force ourselves to finish even half of it. The thing was, we specifically asked to for the mildest Pad Thai possible because my stomach is still recuperating from some unknown thing so I couldn’t eat spicy food. This was also the same reason why I couldn’t order anything from their drinks menu, which mostly consisted of variations of tea, coffee, soda and alcohol. Anyway, I tried this one last because I wanted to put some other food in my stomach first. And the first forkful of noodles was like having tiny ants bite my tongue. That was spicy! I normally have a high tolerance for spicy food but that was beyond me. It masked out all the other flavors and the noodles weren’t that great either, cut up short like how you’d do to a spaghetti if you were feeding a child.
Another brilliant idea struck me and I asked for some lime, wanting to maybe salvage that noodle dish. What we got were three thinly sliced lemons (sorry forgot to take pictures of them). I didn’t want to cause our charming waitress any more trouble so, we made do. But the lemon only worsened the general taste of the food. I later on tried the lemon and it was acrid.
Final verdict: I am never eating at that place again. It really wasn’t meant to be and I shouldn’t have forced it. OR it was all a conspiracy. We asked for some tissue and things went downhill from there – they made us order their worst food, used old cooking oil, put extra salt on the veggies and got very generous with the chili. Good thing the rice came from a bucket used to serve everyone. Otherwise, even our rice would’ve sucked.
2/F, Greenbelt 3,
Ayala Center, Makati City