Where: Banana Leaf, 409 N University Avenue, Provo
Who Went: Owen & Chelsey
Number of Visits: 1
What We Ordered: Avocado Juice, Sri Lankan Lamprice, and Sri Lankan Chicken Kothu
What It Cost: $37.00
What We Thought:
I've been hesitant to write my post on Banana Leaf for a while because I know a lot of people are really passionate about their food. I was very excited to try this restaurant after I had heard about their unique menu and atmosphere, and though it was certainly very different than anything else in Utah County, I didn't really love it. The service was exceptionally slow (it took us over two hours to have our meal, and we didn't order any appetizers or desserts), it was fairly expensive for what we got, and some elements of each dish just tasted sort of off to us.
We started out with the avocado juice which obviously sounded very interesting. It was more of an avocado smoothie than juice, which I thought was fine, and it had a very mild flavor and smooth, creamy texture (**Looking back at their menu online, I see that they have now changed the name to "Avocado Shake," which is appropriate). The whipped cream on top was nothing special, and it was served with a chocolate sauce. This would have been a great addition, except for the fact that it tasted exactly like Hershey's chocolate syrup (which I'm pretty sure doesn't contain very much real chocolate at all). We decided to forgo the syrup and just drink the smoothie plain, but it really would have been nice with some chocolate undertones. Since it was also very thick, it didn't really do much to quench your thirst after you ate something spicy, like you might find with a mango lassi and Indian food. But I don't know anywhere else in Utah where you can get an avocado beverage, so at least it had that going for them.
The one thing I absolutely insisted on was ordering something that came in a Banana Leaf. Their menu was surprisingly limited (usually I find that ethnic restaurants have very large menus), so I decided to go with the lamprice (one of two options served inside a banana leaf) which sounded more unique and original.
It certainly was unique and mixed flavors I'd never had before. There was seasoned rice with curried chicken and baked potatoes, topped with a mango chutney and spicy chili sauce. The thing that really threw this one off for me was the fried eggs inside - there was a hard boiled egg that had been deep-fried and cut in half inside of the banana leaf concoction. Visually, it was unappealing, and when I tried to eat the egg with the rest of the dish, it had a very strange flavor. At least I enjoyed playing with my banana leaf while waiting for the check!
Owen got the chicken kothu, which also came with different sambols (chili sauces) and chutneys. Of the sauces, we only really liked the flavor of one, which was a little disappointing. The actual meal portion was rice and chicken mixed with melted cheese, vegetables, egg, shredded roti (the unleavened flatbread), and masala curry spices. Once again, this dish provided us with an exotic flavor. The melted cheese mixture gave a singular briny taste, and the chicken, though seasoned nicely, was a little dry. We weren't planning on finishing it, but our server took so very long to return with our check that we ended up slowly picking at it over the course of a half hour.
What You Should Do: If it sounds interesting to you, and you really like trying new, unexpected food, then it may be worth a visit to Banana Leaf - but only if you aren't in a hurry to get anywhere else that night. I understand that it is a family-run business, and the hostess was very friendly and kind to us, but it's just not the place to go if you are on a tight agenda. I do not think that we'll be returning to Banana Leaf because we felt like it was a bit overpriced, and nothing on the menu is anything that we ever would crave or really want to try again. However, this restaurant is a great place to go if you are on a vegan or gluten-free diet, as many of their menu options can be customized to fit these dietary needs.