I was in Vancouver, BC 2 weeks ago and I went to Canada to run the Lululemon SeaWheeze half marathon. I run with the Lululemon running group here in my neighborhood and enjoy the experience and camaraderie immensely.
Multiple studies have shown and I can attest to the fact that exercising in a group or with a buddy is the surest path to success. My running group keeps me accountable and they make those dang miles fly by quickly!
I have made it my mission to try Malaysian restaurants whenever I travel and boy was I lucky! Vancouver has 5 Malaysian restaurants but unfortunately I only had time to try 1!
Banana Leaf Vancouver BC has five locations and I ate at the Davie St location. The restaurant space is larger than it seems on the outside. It has a nice SEAsian decor with Malaysian batik cloth and wooden carvings tastefully displayed on it’s brightly colored walls. It is most definitely a casual restaurant, more of a cafe atmosphere and reservations are definitely highly recommended as they fill up quickly.
All food descriptions were taken from the menu.
Flaky layered bread served with coconut curry sauce. One of India’s great culinary contributions to Malaysia.
Hot bean sprouts and tofu, with cucumber, potato and green beans. Topped off with egg and satay peanut sauce
Boneless lean beef stewed in spicy coconut gravy.
Char Kuey Teow
Fried flat rice noodles in sweet chilli, soy sauce, egg, bean sprouts, shrimp, fish cakes and squid.
Pandan flavored crepe filled with dried coconut which has been steeped in gula melaka or palm sugar.
I feel a little ridiculous saying this but everything was truly terrific! The beef rendang curry and Char Kuey Teow were true standouts. The beef rendang curry had so much flavor as should be when this dish is braised properly. There are no shortcuts to a good beef rendang and it was so nice to have such an outstanding one outside of Malaysia.
The Char Kuey Teow was simply amazing. It had that all important wok hei or fragrance from the wok akin to the barbecue flavoring that accompanies grilled meats.
The wok hei makes this dish almost impossible to replicate for home cooks unless you are one of the fortunate few who have access to a very large cooking flame (which is also a sure sign that you should try out for Iron Chef)! Char Kuey Teow is one of my all time favorite comfort foods, so a big thank you goes out to Banana Leaf Vancouver BC for all the wonderful memories that this sublime dish evoked!
The service was excellent. Our waiter was very knowledgeable and attentive to our dietary needs and requests. They have a large menu which also includes some Thai and Indonesian dishes. They also have a fixed price tasting menu for lunch and dinner. Most entrees cost around C$15 and they are open 7 days a week from 11:30 am to 10:00 pm on weekdays and 10:30 pm on weekends.
Of course, I can’t end this post without posting some of the photos I took of beautiful Vancouver. I also especially want to thank Gillian, a fellow food blogger whom I met at the Food Fight Write Conference here in Las Vegas last year. Gillian hosted me for a few days in Vancouver and we got to visit Granville Island and most importantly try some terrific food.
Gillian is today’s epitome of a renaissance woman. She is a retired physician and biochemist who reviews restaurants, wine, theater performances, books, travel and also somehow manages to find time to ballroom dance! She writes at Review from The House.
It really was such a fantastic trip; a sort of homecoming for me because I went to high school in Vancouver and this trip brought back such wonderful memories. I’ll most definitely be back next year and can’t wait to explore and rediscover more of beautiful British Columbia!