"As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life." -BUDDHA

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Banana Leaf at The Podium

Banana Leaf at The Podium
Banana Leaf at The Podium
It was fourth Monday of July and I was feeling blue. To ease me up I need a dish that could somehow solve my undecipherable sadness. Weather was nice and set according to my likeness so my gastronomic buddy and I were determined to meet up at The Podium Mall, Ortigas to share a meal together at a restaurant known to serve authentic Asian cuisine. When you say Asian it is synonymous to that of Malaysian, Singaporean, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Indian, right? This made us all the more crave for these diverse dishes. It had been a year already since we last dated at this restaurant and I was delighted to know that anytime we can order delicious fare at strategic locations here in Metro Manila. It ballooned to so many branches since we get to know this restaurant 3 years ago and since Banana Leaf is known to be the pioneer in offering this wide-range cuisine in the Philippines, what do you expect? 
Banana Leaf at The Podium
Banana Leaf at The Podium
It is so common to not use plate from which food is eaten whenever you dine here at Banana Leaf. Hence, the name. Cutleries were pre-prepared already and once the guest decided to dine, that's the only time they place before you a clean big sheet of banana leaf  known to us as 'dahon ng saging'. Until now I am still curious as to how the staff sanitize these leaves. If you know can you please enlighten me.
Banana Leaf at The Podium
We wanted to seat at the far end of the vast dining area wherein we could have our private conversation and where we feel most comfortable. Problem is one of the guest relations officer prohibited us from getting there as they cleaned that area already. Good thing we were not in the mood to at least fight for our rights as a customer since it was just past 8PM only and the resto closes at 10PM. We then settled to the next best seat we chose, far from the corner overlooking one of the Ortigas streets.
Banana Leaf at The Podium 
Fresh Dalandan Juice PhP78
Since I refrain myself from sugary drinks, I neither asked my beau to order a softdrink nor an iced tea for us. Instead he's good with a distilled house water and yours truly for a bottomless fresh dalandan juice. Though far from the citrus and tangy taste of calamansi juice, this one is so fine with me. We saw from afar that what they serve was really freshly squeezed diluted with the right amount of water. A waiter and counter person did the constant refilling and we honestly saw how it's done.
Banana Leaf at The PodiumPenang Fried Rice with Salted Fish and Chicken PhP188 
I made him decide for every dish to order and I was hoping that time that what he decided approved my tummy.  This fried rice dish was too salty and not warm when served to us. I realized it when I already helped myself with spoonfuls. I hesitated to call the attention of the manager on duty about this because he's obviously too busy giving some directions to his staff so we just kept mum about it.  In the end, I felt unhappy about not telling him my concern right then and there.
Banana Leaf at The Podium
Barbecue Roasted Whole Baby Back Ribs PhP338
This one is so different from the baby back ribs cooked and served from an American diner as this is infused with Asian spices that made it extra delicious and inviting in every bite. Mouthful though not a perfect partner with the Penang Rice. I'd rather have it with plain rice.
Wok Fried Black Curry Lamb PhP288
It looked odd for me but this plate has an enormous amount of serving portion. Taste was slightly spicy and thank heavens it was bearable to eat. Wok fried does not mean being dry to me but then this dish is really exuding with so much undefined note, flaky and meaty and yet dry for my palate. I expected it to have some juiciness but unfortunately nothing oozed even to the last portion.
Banana Leaf at The Podium
My very own plate or should I say my banana leaf :)
Banana Leaf at The Podium
Food server was so prompt. He delivered just in time these dessert plates (shape of a banana leaf), dessert spoons and forks.
Banana Leaf at The Podium Onde Onde (PhP80) 
This is a Malaysian dish which is otherwise known as Asian Poppers. Made with glutinous rice flour, pandan juice, sweet potatoes, dried coconut flakes, water salt and palm sugar. We perceived it like our native delicacy bukayo covered with sticky rice and garnished with sweetened coconut flakes. In every bite there is a slow flow of gula Melaka or Malaccan sugar. A nice, sweet treat after a hefty fusion of Asian dishes. One order is composed of four warm onde onde. Piece of advice: order this at least 30 minutes before you intend to taste this dessert as it requires extra effort in preparation and cooking. Great that we ordered it beforehand so we did not have to wait to be able to taste this delectable pieces.
Banana Leaf at The Podium
Banana Leaf at The Podium
Banana Fritters (PhP80)
We were so cheerless with the result of Banana Leaf's banana fritters because this is far from what we really expected. First, the cover was so thick; second, banana slices were mushy which is good but too ripe making it quite unbecoming to finish; third, it has an aftertaste that is not so ideal with a banana fritter that will cost you more that fifty pesos. One positive thing I can say about this was the way the vanilla ice cream created- very unique and original. So creamy and very our of the ordinary. To us, this plate of dessert is two thumbs down. We could have ordered for another Onde Onde or any other Asian desserts available had we known this could be what's in store for us. Thus, next time we won't order for this.

Somehow dining at this place lifted my spirits except for some minute flaws which are correctable. Wide array of choices from six different cuisines to mix and match and tease your appetite. But expect to shell out for the 10% service charge. Service was fine. Mood and atmosphere was excellent.  'Til our next Banana Leaf adventure! Hoping for its completely nourishing and excellent experience next time around. Will you dare fall in love with the best Asian cuisine at Banana Leaf? Share your thoughts now.

2/F The Podium
18 ADB Ave. Wack Wack
Mandaluyong City, Philippines
(02) 687-6808
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