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Things to do in Vancouver: The tastes of Southeast Asia

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Banana Leaf
Various Locations
Vancouver

We knew exactly where we were going. We had talked about it all evening. Yet, as my friend and I marched down the street to our dinner location, we found ourselves in the doorway of Banana Leaf. Was it the colourful, welcoming atmosphere? Or the lively energy of the people? Or was it the countless decals on the door, each representing a restaurant acclaim? Whatever the reason was, it wasn’t long after that we found ourselves chatting over Fresh Mango Margaritas and eagerly waiting for our food.

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My friend and I both have roots in Southeast Asia where Banana Leaf derives their menu. The spice and flavour profiles from this specific region are intricate and hugely varied. Yet, I’ve always admired the depth of options at Banana Leaf. The Singapore Laksa, Beef Rendang, and Roti Canai continue to be menu staples; however, Sayur Lemak (A Nonya adaption of Malay-style vegetable in a mild and creamy curry sauce) and the Nasi Goreng (Malaysia fried rice with beef, shrimp, egg, tomato, onion & green bean) are there for those who seek. With expert foodie decisiveness, we decided on the following:

The Appetizer Sampler for 2 is a compilation of some of my most favourite items: papaya and pineapple salad, chicken satay, spring rolls, roti canai, and calamari. They do a particularly good job of the roti canai – it’s crispy, doughy, and just slightly chewy. Don’t be fooled by perfectly circular rounds of roti – the good stuff tends to come in mismatched shreds like these!

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If you’re interested in trying something different on the menu, I would highly recommend the Gulai Seafood to as a great place to start. It’s a taste of the ocean: scallop, prawn, fish, mussel, clam, and squid simmered in spicy turmeric coconut sauce made of tamarind, galangal, lemon grass & ginger. The coconut in the sauce is a comforting flavour, while the turmeric adds a unique sweet and peppery kick.

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With just two dishes and pair of drinks, this was a deeply satisfying amount of food for two people. That being said, I’ve had many experiences dining at Banana Leaf with groups of friends and family, and it remains to be faithful in it’s quality of food and service. With more stomachs to fill, I’d encourage you to try the Hainanese Chicken, the Pineapple Fried Rice (that comes in a half-pineapple) and of course, the signature Malaysian dessert, Pisang Goreng – deep-fried bananas topped with vanilla ice cream, crushed peanut & palm sugar! It’s good enough to stop you in your tracks!

Looking for other foodie things to do in Vancouver? Check out our blog on Mocha Matchup, and you might be inspired to do a mocha foodie tour with our suggestions!

Joyce Chua

About Joyce Chua

I’m fascinated by food and its impact on culture, especially in an increasingly globalized world. I love how Vancouver’s multicultural food scene opens doors to history, culture, and understanding. Here’s to a life of eating and learning!

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