Many thanks to Rachel for organizing no. 7 in the Chowhound 2001 series and to Gordon who shares co-discovery credits with her for spotting the upcoming opening. Banana Garden has been open for only three weeks and the kitchen is cranking out really good food.
We stood out in the parking lot for a bit to survey the landscape before plunging in. This is a big place with a jarring mix of decor - steel wall sculpture, chinese kitchen gods, neon lights, and tiki tropical kitsch. Yet the combo was reminiscent of Singapore. The clientele were mostly 20-somethings, young families, and pan-Asian. The place filled up quickly on this weeknight.
To sample widely, we ordered more than we thought the 6 of us could eat (had to laugh when Rachel said her eyes were bigger than her stomach, uh, I don't think so) but once again managed to finish everything. Our menu -
Roti Canai with curry sauce 2.95
Roti Teleur with potato curry sauce 3.95
Hainan chicken rice 7.95
String beans with Malaysian shrimp paste sauce 7.95
Eggplant Malaysian style 7.95
Chow Kueh Teow 7.50
Deep Fried Pompano with Belachan Sauce 16.95
Coconut Jumbo Prawns 16.95
Malaysian Style Spareribs 8.95
Steamed Rice, 1.00
Toffee Banana 3.95
Mango Sticky Rice 5.95
2000 Handley Brightlighter White (Gewurz/Riesling) - thanks Celery/Lee!
1997 Freiherr Heyl zu Herrnsheim Niersteiner Oelberg Kabinett Riesling
Taking a quick poll around the table, the only dish that fell out of the running was the Hainan chicken - not tender enough and the rice lacked richness. The spareribs were Lee's first pick, inciting some controversy. Everything else was universally loved.
Unlike the Singaporean/Malaysian/Indonesian places I've frequented here in the Bay Area, the food here is more refined and detailed suggesting trained chefs in the kitchen. No overcooked seafood or just dump it on the plate presentations. This is a step up from the home cooking style.
Our first server wasn't forthcoming about the house's best. Fortunately, we wound up with Justin (young Chinese with glasses and ponytail) who confirmed our menu picks and also suggested the spareribs. We learned from him that the owner is Hong Kong Chinese who loves Malay food and also has a Thai restaurant in Fremont.
Corkage is $10 per table. Our tab was $140 or $23 per person including tax, corkage and 20% tip.
Super find - I'll be back to taste more from this menu.
Banana Garden Restaurant & Lounge
Malaysia, Singapore & Thai Cuisine
3150 Pierce St.
Richmond, CA 94804
510-559-9388, fax 510-559-3299
M-Th: 11am-3pm, 5pm-10pm
Fri: 11am-3pm, 5pm-10:30pm