If seeing the words “banana” and “leaf” in the same sentence triggers the release of dopamine in your brain, then this is the write-up for you.
Some share a love-hate relationship with the traditional Indian food, unable to avoid its addictive piquancy even if their taste buds can barely handle the spice; while others see it as a go-to meal, suitable for casual and celebratory occasions.
Thanks to its hype among spice-loving Malaysians, banana leaf restaurants have popped up in nearly every corner of town, offering a wide variety of unique flavours – leaving you gleefully spoiled for choice.
In this piece, we feature 5 extra-fiery banana leaf joints specially handpicked by KL dwellers, all located within the Klang Valley.
Let’s get to it:
1. Betel Leaf Chettinad Restaurant
Located in Leboh Ampang, Preethika describes Betel Leaf as the perfect blend between North and South Indian food.
The menu consists of all the essentials, but according to her, it’s the thalli sets that set the restaurant apart from the rest. You’ll get to choose between 2 types of vegetarian thalli platters entailing local favourites such as kottu, curd and poriyal masala.
The restaurant is also famed for its offering of 9 types of biryani, including turkey and quail.
To top it all of, the place is comfortable, air-conditioned and spacious with tasteful decor. Where else can you enjoy a meal surrounded by gurgling water features?
Address: 77A, Leboh Ampang, City Centre, 50100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
“From the outside, BananaBro is casual, simple and unassuming. It’s also reasonably priced compared to most banana leaf places out there, so I honestly just walked in for a quick meal without big hopes,” said Prasadh, a 23-year-old forwarding agent for a local logistics company.
He told JUICE that he had stumbled upon the restaurant’s Kota Damansara branch during a rushed work break, where he was pleasantly surprised by the palatableness of their Banana Leaf Craving Set, priced at RM12.90 only.
The set includes refillable rice, two types of vegetables, fried bitter gourd and four varieties of curry gravy – though Prasadh recommends the ‘special curry’, which he describes as “slightly salty, in the best way”.
He also noted that it tasted similar to crab curry, but when he asked for confirmation, the waiter simply said that it was “just special, bro.”
Since then, Prasadh has frequented the eatery and tried their meat options. He’s a big fan of their Chicken 65, served crispy and hot. He recommends piling a spoonful of the chicken and rice onto your most concave papadom and dipping it in curry before helping yourself to a taco-style bite.
He also emphasised on the freshness of the dishes, adding that the quality has never been compromised whether he eats in or opts for delivery.
Apparently, the restaurant also has an outlet in Perth, Australia!
Local branches: Berjaya Times Square, The Gardens Mall, Cheras Leisure Mall, Sri Petaling, Kota Damansara, Damansara Utama, Wangsa Walk, IOI City Mall, KL East Mall, D’Pulze Mall, Alor Setar, Sri Gombak, MyTOWN Shopping Centre and Empire Damansara (pickup/delivery only).
3. Sri Seenu Restaurant
“Good service, accommodating staff, hot food and big portions”- This is what comes to mind when 57-year-old Sutina thinks of her favourite Indian restaurant.
According to her, the curry house has been around for a long time and has since earned its keep as a comfort place for the older crowd.
Menu-wise, pretty much all the banana leaf staples are offered here, but the magic of it comes from the prompt and warm treatment one receives from staff members, even during the busiest hours.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say they treat me like a queen. Once I’m seated, all I have to do is point out which dishes I’d like for the day.”
“Everything is brought to me almost instantly. Before I know it, I have a leaf filled with hot rice, veggies, rasam and dried chili. The only time I raise a finger is to pour the curry onto my food,” she contended.
Sutina also noted that Sri Seenu grows crowded around lunch time, but one can always opt for the private dining area for a quiet, pre-booked meal.
If you’re lucky, you might even get the chance to try their silky, cold kulfi to wash down the spicy grub.
Address: 39, Jalan Dato Mahmud 11/4, Seksyen 11 Petaling Jaya, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor (Previously known as Sri Paandi)
4. Moorthy’s Mathai Indian Rice
Can’t have a banana leaf blog without mentioning Brickfields, can we?
Operating for over 30 years, Chelsea’s go-to dish at Moorthy’s is their signature mutton curry:
The marketing and guest relation exec says that she had always struggled to find a mutton curry blend that isn’t too “mutton-y” nor unforgivably bland.
“Even the most popular banana leaf joints sometimes serve curries which leave a strange or slightly pungent taste in the mouth. That’s why I go for this one.
“It’s the same with all their other food. I don’t know if it’s just me but I feel like a lot of places are too commercialised and we sometimes end up with mildly sweet-tasting dishes, which is far from the authentic taste,” she explained.
The eatery boasts flavourful meals made with the family’s secret recipe, passed down for generations. Chelsea even joked about “pulling a Plankton” and trying to get her hands on the secret blend behind the dishes’ homely vibes. I’m sure I have meme for that somewhere…
Address: 144A, Jalan Vivekananda, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
5. Mollagaa Restaurant
In case you haven’t noticed already, Mollagaa carries a very extensive menu.
Shamala deems it a family-favourite, as “there’s something for everyone, and it’s also nice and cosy.”
Pictured above is the Maapilai Virundhu (husband’s treat) set, recommended by the middle-aged housewife who organises monthly “banana leaf days” with her big family.
“We can never decide what to have when we go there because everything looks so good. With this set, everyone can have a taste of what they’re craving and try a little bit of everything.
“I think that’s the whole point of banana leaf – mixing flavours among sweet, spicy, hot and cold until you’re ready to head home with a full belly. If you consider the types of meat and the portion, the price is also very worth it,” she said.
It’s evident that whether you’re travelling in a big group like Shamala and family or not, you’ll be met with wide options at Mollagaa, each more tempting than the other.
Address: 50A, Leboh Ampang, City Centre, 50100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
That concludes our list!
Make sure to tag us in your artsy #FoodPorn photos if this inspired your next meal.