The name Banana Leaf is quite conspicuous as a place to grab a meal for a decent price. They are a streetside biriyani joint that evolved into a respectable well-known name at this point.
As Buddhika found out, this Banana Leaf down Saint Anthony's Mawatha (not to be confused with New Banana Leaf in Kollupitiya) is the original one.
With a newly revamped menu, they have an impressive range of options for your meals. Their signature dish is the Chicken Briyani that comes under 'Banana Leaf Specialities', and then you have your usual rice & curry, kottu, protein dishes as well as a few vegetable dishes.
We wanted to try their Crab Rice & Curry but sadly they were out of it, so we settled for a plate of Nasigoreng Fried Rice (Rs. 620 for small).
Even though they said this is the small portion, the size was hefty and can easily fill up two hungry bellies. One of the signature-conducts in Banana Leaf is that you get an actual banana leaf laid out for you to eat from, which was super exciting.
The rice was a tad oily without overly being so, but we thought that as the nature of the beast. It was seasoned well to have a bit of heat and cooked adequately. We found pieces of roast chicken mixed in, as well as shrimp, cuttlefish and veggies. Coupled with the bullseye egg and the slight tang from the pineapple, the nasi was delicious.
Next up, we went with their signature dish – the Chicken Biriyani (Rs. 600). This came with a massive chunk of chicken, an egg, cucumber, tomato sambol, chicken gravy, cashew nut with green peas curry and Maldive fish sambol as the side dishes.
Even though the rice came in a beautiful yellow colour, it didn’t have the signature biriyani flavour. But at this point, we are more or less aware of this rendition of biriyani from the Banana Leaf.
We appreciated that the rice wasn't oily, even though it didn’t have much in terms in seasoning and came across as just yellow rice. The chicken was cooked well, and meat came off the bones easily, and while it was marinated to have a sour side, it lacked a bit of heat. But Maldive fish symbol stepped in and took care of the spiciness and coupled with the chicken gravy, this one had a delightful savoury flavour. The fresh crunch from the cucumber, onion and tomato salad and the curry taste from the cashew nuts with green peas all contributed to the extra flavour of the meal.
For drinks, we went with their Apple Juice (Rs. 200) which was a delightful fresh juice made with green apples. They didn’t go haywire with the sugar amount and kept the balance of the flavour intact. But they really should have made the drink a bit cold because our drink was almost the room temperature and didn’t do much to handle the mid-day heat.
The Chocolate Milkshake (Rs. 270) packed a good amount of chocolate flavour and sugar to the taste. The drink was smooth and decorated with the chocolate syrup, but we thought it could have been served a bit chilly too.
Service & Ambience
From the point we walked in, until we walked out, the waiters paid polite, and close attention to us. We were greeted with smiles and they seemed genuinely friendly. All the food came to us without any delay, so we don’t have much to complain as in terms of service.
While they do have enough seating for about 20- 25 people, manoeuvring between chairs and tables got a bit tricky.
Even though they are newly opened, they are the same team from the original Banana Leaf and we are happy to see they managed to keep their standards within our expectations. If you are in the area looking for a good meal that can fill you up easily for a decent price, Banana Leaf is a reliable option.