Have you been to Banana Leaf Curry? It’s a restaurant chain in Manila. It’s the restaurant which gave us Filipinos a chance to discover the cuisine of our Southeast Asian neighbors. Prior to it’s first restaurant opening – we were already familiar with Thai cooking. We also grew up with Cantonese and Chinese dishes. However – Malaysian curry found in Malaysian food and Indonesian food was unknown.
I must say that thanks to our countrymen who have gone to to Malaysia and Indonesia for work – we started to get introduced to the other Southeast Asian dishes. We did not like it at first – but realizing that a lot of those countries’ dishes were similar to ours – now – we are comfortable with dishes like Gado-Gado, Char Kway Teaw., Beef Rendang, Penang Acar and all other dishes cooked with all the spices that could only be found in those countries.
This weekend was a time for us to go to Banana Leaf Curry. We were given our Banana Leaves – which we were familiar with because growing up, those were our paper plates when we went camping or when we went to family excursions to the beach.
I like Banana Leaf Curry – and for those who are still unfamiliar with all our neighbors’ cuisine – it’s a good place to start. Here are some recommendations I have and the Filipino dishes that are closest to them.
Milk Tea is a foreign concept to most of us. Heck – I don’t think our ancestors even knew what tea is – apart from the Lipton Tea bags. I know we had coffee – and Milk Coffee we knew about. But Milk Tea? I only found out about it as an adult. Pictured here are the Teh Tarik and the Thai Iced Tea. The Tarik is from Malaysia. Both are made of the same materials but they have different flavors. I don’t have any preference and I actually switch from one to the other.
We Filipinos love hotdogs. The Malaysians and the Indians love their Roti ( literally translated it’s bread ). Recently, I heard that the Germans love their Currywurst ( or Curry Sausage ). Mix all those together and you end up with this Roti filled with Currywurst. A wonderful mixture of flavors.
Imagine having French toast – but instead of just milk and honey – you have it soaked in a shrimp sauce and it’s covered in Sesame Seeds. Need I say more?
Vegetable in Portuguese sauce. Do you know Kare Kare? Imagine that without the bagoong (Shrimp Paste ) and without the Beef Tripe … and with all the goodness of spices that the Portuguese used to control for the whole wide worlds. This is a treasure of a dish – that even Ferdinand Magellan would have circumnavigated the world for.
Whoever said that the Asian nations only know rice cakes have not tasted our Coconut based desserts. This is like Lumpia ( or egg based crepe ) filled with sweetened coconut ( which we Filipinos call Bukayo ). A must try for any Pinoy who love their Kakanin ( translated to Cuisine ).
I hope I have helped you open up your mind to discovering new dishes. Don’t get me wrong – I love Filipino food. However – our Pinoy tongue can definitely benefit from trying something new. These dishes are a good place to start – their familiar – but they’re altogether foreign.