I love finding hidden neighbourhood gems. It’s such a point of satisfaction for me, because I spend so much time in the city and Northbridge for my dining adventures. So having some local joints I can go to to get away from the crowds and the overpriced menus is really appreciated. And if we’re all being honest, when it comes to neighbourhood gems, Asian food is the reigning king. Like going to Mirrabooka or Girraween for Vietnamese, or Joondana for Arabic.
My mum was the one who discovered Banana Leaf, a Malaysian restaurant out in Malaga. She took Jeremy and I there for a belated birthday lunch for me one lazy Saturday afternoon – and we arrived all ready to eat up a storm together.
The menu is really well priced, that’s the first thing I need to point out. We had a heap of dishes, and paid around $74.00, including tea and a couple bottled drinks too. The restaurant is also clean, the staff friendly and there’s some pretty amazing aromas circulating the room.
With our love of char kway teow, it was natural for us to add this to our order ($11.50). It had a great level of smokiness from the quick toss in the wok, which is the signature flavour of this dish done right. It also wasn’t drowning in soy sauce like the versions most restaurants in Perth create which I’m just not a fan of at all.
It was well accompanied by the special of the day, a whole fried barramundi (only $15.00!). There was so much meat on the fish, pulling away easily and flaking apart with just a prod of our chopsticks. I really loved how juicy the meat still was, and it worked well with the simple supreme sauce underneath – ideal to spoon over the plain rice we ordered or the noodles too.
We also ordered two other dishes for our lunch (though one more probably would have been the perfect amount as we rolled out of there). First up, the highly recommended, soft shell crab butter egg ($20.50) – which you can also order as a prawn dish. I loved, love, loved this. Super crispy and all kinds of textural goodness, it has the creamy softness that soft shell crab boasts.
I liked the addition of crispy fried herbs in there too which added new dimensions of flavour when you took in those mouthfuls. Yum!
Our final dish was the ying yang pork ribs ($18.50). The name pretty much says it all in what this dish offers – a dark sticky sauce on one side, and a creamy mayonnaise style on the other. The ribs are flash fried, offering a nice crust on the outside but tender meat on the inside with the fat melting in your mouth. At first I wasn’t sure about this dish, but the more I ate it, the more I really liked it. I can see why it’s one of the best sellers here – and they also offer this ying yang style for other dishes too like the barramundi. It’s a way to offer the best of both worlds.
So our thoughts on Banana Leaf? I think it’s pretty clear that all of us thoroughly enjoyed the meal which means we will definitely be back again soon. Between the homestyle Chinese and Malaysia cuisine, and the fact that it’s a local joint that only took us about 15 minutes to drive to, it ticked all the boxes.
The friendly price point, and the plentiful menu means we can make our way through bit by bit.