On the Eastern side of Currie Street, near the Leigh Street intersection, is a bright yellow sandwich board on the pavement that reads: "Curries on Currie!" And that's exactly what Banana Leaf Indian Restaurant offers; good South Indian cuisine in the midst of the Currie Street hustle and bustle.
The front entrance of the restaurant on Currie St.
I've been here about four times now, dropping in whenever I feel like having some Indian food that reminds me of home. Speaking of home, they also serve some Malaysian and Singaporean food as well, such as Indian-style fried noodles, rice, vermicelli noodles and rice noodles. Their menu mostly consists of the usual fare of biryani and curry, and there are a variety of vegetarian dishes as well. The meat served here is all halal.
The very first thing to arrive at our table was a glass of mango lassi, smiling cheerfully up at us. Lassi is a traditional drink made with yoghurt, this was my friend's order, and she said that the texture was a little too thick for her liking. It should be smoother to the taste.
We came here for lunch on a Tuesday afternoon, so we got to pick our meals from the lunch menu. The lunch specials are $10 for a serving of rice, a papadum and your choice of curry, or two pieces of paratha with a serving of curry.
I went for the paratha, as I haven't had roti in a very long time. I was starting to crave it, and I was very happy with the paratha here. It was soft, warm and buttery, really taking me back to the mamak restaurants I used to frequent back in Malaysia. When it came to ordering the curry, I was torn between getting the butter chicken or the lamb korma. I have a love for korma, and that's what I ended up getting. While it wasn't the best, it was satisfying enough. I notice that the bowls of curry don't look like much, but once I start eating, it's actually very filling.
The butter chicken was the first dish I ever tasted here, and it's still as delicious now as it was then. Tender chicken pieces in a yoghurt, mild spices and butter ... in my friend's words, you really can't go wrong with this. I think it would be even better if it were a little bit spicier. But then again, it is a mild curry after all.
My friend ordered the masala thosai, and she's given it her seal of approval. Coming from a person who is very particular about the authenticity of Indian cuisine, this is a good sign. I didn't get a taste, but it looked good - the serving was way bigger than we expected it to be.
One thing about this restaurant is the unpredictable waiting times for your dish to arrive. Twice when I came here, it took a really long time for the food to be served, while the last time took a surprisingly short while. The interior of the restaurant is a bit dim though, with most of the lighting in the day coming from the glass windows at the front of the store. It's also dim at night, but it somehow looks better and classier than it does in the day, with the dark floor and furniture. The music played here also helps to set the mood, a constant low thrill of smooth Indian tunes. Another plus is that the servers are friendly, and I'm quite happy with the service there.