On Tuesday this week I ate at Banana Tree in West Hampstead. Aside from my overwhelming need for ANY dish made in a wok, we ate here because other restaurants had a long wait, and despite being busy, there was space to eat immediately at Banana Tree (my reading up on "experiences" to Ho Chi Minh drove the craving - advice on this city is welcome). Space was available not through lack of diners, but these guys are quick as lightening, churning people through like cattle (albeit happy cattle). Banana Tree is essentially good fast indo-food.
Banana Tree is a London chain that has a charity partnership with with the Orangutan Appeal (chains can be good…). Who wouldn’t want to save this little guy, WHILST eating pan-asian food, in West Hampstead…
The ginormous food offering comes from all over ‘Indo-China’ (that duo name truly covers their backs enabling them to serve almost anything…) – noodles/curry/dumplings, even prossecco. But hey it’s fun. The menu includes a special logo for the chef and founder’s recommendations. It was proving a similar but better version of my East Street experience.
Starters were plonked down within SIX minutes – that’s faster than KFC! I had prawn & pork dumplings to start which were DIVINE and very generous.
My little friend had Kajang Satay sauce with light Indo puff pastry chunks which was really interesting and delicious – nice adaption of a classic sauce with a Street Style Crispy Dough.
For main, my little friend chosefrom the regional specialty menu. Really moist, good quality duck. Sauce quite sweet which wasn’t for me but he loved it. He had noodles to accompany it which were nice and light but quite plain but still a good accompaniment to the main.
I chose a curry recommended by the chef and founder (yes i’m a sucker for marketing) from the Curry & Stew Section. The sauce was so rich and delicious. As a dish I really enjoyed it, but the beef was quite dry so by the end it did become a chore to chew, luckily i’m well practiced… Accompanied with jasmine rice, a shame that most of the rice went to waste – no one ever eats a bowl of rice the size of a rugby ball, when will kitchens learn!
And to wash it down, we had a delicious prossecco ‘Champagne for students’! Joking, I literally cannot get enough of prosecco. Any aged grape plus carbonation get’s a tick from me.
The meal came to £30 a head – which with a bottle of prosecco, a starter, main, and side is extremely reasonable (and we had the honour of dining in West Hampstead – Stephen Fry lives there, he’s a prossecco fiend too).
The restaurant was opened up with the option to dine outside (with a cover of course in case Stephen visits). The staff were polite & efficient – but nothing special. I don’t blame them with seven thousand people coming through the door each night…even on a Tuesday.
237-239 West End Lane NW6 1XN