Banana Island Restaurant in Westlake Shopping Center (311 Lake Merced Blvd. near John Daly Blvd., 650-756-6868) opened yesterday and my husband, daughter and I went for dinner.
It's very similar to Banana Garden in Richmond (the menu is extremely similar!), but we liked the food at Banana Island better. We ordered the Roti Canai ($2.95), a house speciality -- we were seated right next to the counter where they were being made -- the dough was stretched as thin as filo and folded and cooked on a griddle. I could have eated lots more of these -- the warm curry sauce was sublime! We also ordered and liked Lobak ($6.95), a mix of fried spiced pork roll, fried tofu and fried pancake shrimp (crispy) served with cucumber, pickled ginger, sliced black eggs and two dipping sauces (a sweet/sour and a hoisin). We loved a dish called Eggplant Malaysian Style ($7.95), sauteed eggplant and a few prawns coated with a thick spicy shrimp paste. Less successful, I thought, was the Clams with Black Bean Sauce ($10.95). I've had much better versions in Chinese restaurants and they were much less expensive. Finally, we ordered, and liked, Chow Kueh Teow, a Malaysian stir fried flat noodle dish with shrimp, squid, bean sprouts, eggs, soy sauce and chili paste.
The restaurant used to be an Applebees and they still use the same tables, etc. However, they have decorated the place quite nicely with huge pots filled with bamboo, pictures, etc. There is a large open grill area in the center of the restaurant where you can watch them make the Roti. Kids are fascinated with the process (so are adults) and nobody minds if they come right up to the counter and watch.
The service last night was typical of a place on opening day. Some of our orders came much later than others and people were running around trying to get everything together. Overall, though, service was very good.
Next time, I'd like to go with more people. There were lots of things on the menu we'd like to try -- live fish, lobster, crab, chicken dishes, curries, clay pots, loads of noodle dishes, etc. We will go back to this place soon!
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