Before my second venture to Banana Island I went and read the Wikipedia article on Malaysian food. I read a handful of reviews on yelp and Urbanspoon. I even looked up a few recipes. I considered re-watching the Malaysian episode of “No Reservations” for a third time. This isn’t research or even preparation for this article, this is just what I like to do sometimes before I go to a restaurant, especially one that offers dishes I’ve never heard of, like “Roti” and “Masak Lemak”.
I’m not against an impromptu trip, (I like to think of myself as being adventurous but for the most part I’m not.)
The first time I happened upon Banana Island with a couple of friends we had just been intrigued by the name “Banana Island” (quotation marks included) and the promise of at the very least a new experience. I thank “Lost” for making the word “island” compelling to me.
My food that first time was tasty but I had major plate-envy. Everyone’s food at my table looked amazing and honestly more interesting then the chicken dish I got. I think I might’ve even played up the deliciousness of my dish a little to other people at the table because what I was really thinking was “I ordered the wrong thing, because it’s good…but that looks really great.”
Their menu is a mile long. Not literally, but if someone did a cartoon drawing of the restaurant it would be appropriate to do an eye-popping out of the head socket portrayal of the person reading the menu, It’s that long.
The holidays bring a lot of people back to OKC. People who have left and should move back here and hang out with me, and I have only about 48 hours to convince them. One of these escapees is my absolutely fabulous friend Brittney, she asked me to choose a place to have dinner. Since I knew there would be about a dozen of us, Banana Island seemed like a good option, because there’s lots of variety. That’s good when you have both a vegetarian and a guest of honor that’s a little bit of an Ichthoyophobe (fear of eating fish.)
Best of all, most people haven’t caught on to it, at least as far as the dine-in service goes. I don’t like waiting and I don’t like making reservations because I don’t like to have to be at specific places at specific times. My husband makes fun of me for making excuses to get out of line whenever we’re together, I don’t do it on purpose, I just get easily distracted when I’m doing something tedious. When I’m standing alone in line, I really have to resist the urge to leave. Sometimes this keeps me from spending money though, so my impatience can be helpful.
The tendency is to think if a restaurant isn’t busy it isn’t good, but in Banana Island’s case they suffer a little from “a book being judged by it’s cover”. It doesn’t look nearly as nice on the outside as it is on the inside. I know the television picture slide show sounds cheesy and it kind of is, but there nice hdtv’s, and I like looking at food porn while I eat.
With a menu that covers over 100 Malasiayian, Thai, and Indian dishes, the photos can be really helpful. I know you may think I’m exaggerating when I say “over 100” but I’m probably underestimating that number, I got up to 40 entrees at www.mybananaisland.com before I got bored with counting, and I still had a lot of scrolling left to do.
As an appetizer I had Roti Cani (Homemade Indian Pancakes), which to me was like a Malaysian version of a crepe or a large Naan tortilla. The sauce that comes with it is a yummy red curry. Even if I didn’t like curry the Roti Cani is tasty by itself. We also had an appetizer of fried calamari and it was so scrumptious we even convinced the Ichthoyophobe to try a piece. I don’t think she’s quite converted yet, but I plan to keep working on it.
Since it was before New Years and I knew I was going to try to commit staying under a certain calorie count, I splurged by ordering a Vietnamese Coffee as well. Vietnamese Coffee is half dark roast coffee and half sweetened condensed milk, mixed together and so poured over ice. The first time I had Vietnamese Coffee it was hot and since it didn’t come in a clear cup, I thought it was like a shot of espresso and when I drank it I was surprised to get a big chunk of condensed milk at the end. (I wouldn’t advise drinking it this way.) It’s scary to know how good sweetened condensed milk tastes all on it own.
My entrée arrived about the time I was finished with the coffee. After much contemplation I ended up ordering “F20: Malaysian-Style Stir Fried Flat Noodle” and though I certainly didn’t have the prettiest dish at the table, I’m confident mine was one of the tastiest (I’m a little competitive about my entrée choices and just about everything else). This dish definitely reflects the multicultural aspects of Malaysia. It contains shrimp, pork, chicken and vegetables, which was great because then I didn’t have decide on which to try. It tasted kind of like a spicy Pad Thai if it were made with a little Hoisin sauce. The noodles were short and thick, kind of like a fresh-made fettuccini noodle that someone chopped into smaller pieces, like my Mom would do for me when it was spaghetti night and I still sat in a booster chair.
Everyone in our party of 12 seemed very satisfied with their entrees. My Husband had the “Fish Ball Flat Noodle soup”. He’s been on a real soup kick lately. He wouldn’t let me leave with out trying a scallop with some broth and it was really tasty. Our table had a lot of variety: Aromatic Vegetables, Pineapple Chicken, Belecan Fried Rice and Beef Rendang to name a few.
Normally, I’d say a menu of this size should really be trimmed down a bit, especially for people like me that have trouble deciding which brand of coffee to buy, let alone what to order from such an extensive menu, but with all the variety that Malaysian food consists of it seems totally appropriate. I can’t wait to go back and try the Chicken Satay or Sizziling Tofu and Sambal Shrimp or Masak Lemak (a Malay Chicken Curry.)
1500 NW 23rd St,
OKC, OK 73106
(c) 2011 Kim Hickerson and Lacey Dillard All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce photos without Lacey’s permission.