Originated from South India, banana leaf rice is one of the many popular kinds of meals in Malaysia.
As the name suggests, the rice is served on banana leaves instead of plates exactly how the South Indians ate in their homeland before migrating to Malaysia.
While Devi’s Corner and Sri Nirwana Maju are still the talk of the town, here are five other banana leaf restaurants (some you might have never heard of) in Kuala Lumpur that you should try.
1. Chat Masala Restaurant, Brickfields
Located smack along the vibrant street of Little India, Chat Masala Restaurant is a pure vegetarian shop that has been around for a decade. The restaurant is known for its South and North Indian specialties, especially its banana leaf rice.
If you’re ordering the usual combo of banana leaf rice, be sure to ask for their Vegetarian Prawn Masala. The vegetarian prawns are made of tofu and has a similar firm texture much like a real prawn has.
Even if you’re not a regular at this restaurant, you might have noticed the alarmingly colourful display of sweets at the entrance.
2. Aunty Manju’s Home of Banana Leaf, TTDI
Ask around and many will suggest Aunty Manju’s Home of Banana Leaf (or simply Aunty Manju’s) if you’re looking for a fairly decent, healthier option of banana leaf meals.
Located along the same row as Kayra’s, Aunty Manju’s has earned a pretty good name for itself for its mutton marrow curry. However, their chicken masala packs quite a punch too.
The banana leaf set here used to come with five different vegetarian dishes but it has been cut down to four, which is rather disappointing to be honest.
Nonetheless, taste-wise, the vegetables are fresh and the chicken masala curry was flavourful and robust. If you are not a fan of chicken, you could opt for their crab curry or fried fish instead.
3. Sri Paandi Restaurant, Brickfields
Located along the busy street of Jalan Tun Sambathan, Sri Paandi is a humble restaurant but definitely proud of their banana leaf rice offerings.
The restaurant is comfortable with an air-conditioned space towards the back. The staff are all friendly and well-versed with the menu.
The basic banana leaf set here comes with three vegetarian sides along with tairu – a fresh yoghurt that helps tone down the spiciness. The mutton masala was spicier compared to other places on the list.
4. Moorthy’s Mathai Indian Rice, Brickfields
It was quite a journey searching for Moorthy’s banana leaf restaurant. Surprisingly, it isn’t a full-fledged restaurant (Google Images wasn’t helpful either), rather it is a stall located inside a food court called Money’s Corner.
The stall uses the self-service concept with patrons having the choice to choose their dishes, just like they would when ordering Nasi Kandar.
The rice is still served on banana leaves but placed on top of aluminium plates. Not that it matters but fair warning, if you are looking for a full, authentic experience of eating banana leaf rice, this stall may not be the best option.
Nonetheless, taste-wise, the curries were fairly decent, especially their fried fish and mutton curry.
5. Bala’s Banana Leaf, Bangsar
Bala’s Banana Leaf is right around the corner at Lucky Garden. It’s pretty busy but clean and has interesting specials like homemade kulfis and teh tarik made with fresh cow’s milk.
When ordering your banana leaf set, remember to try their freshly fried, piping hot fried chicken for something non-vegetarian to munch on.
Compared to the other places on this list, this banana leaf meal was relatively light, which in turn could make you go want to go for seconds or even order an additional dish.
The vegetable portions are rather small, but the chicken is fresh and succulent despite being under-seasoned.
Their signature Cheese Naan is super delicious. Perfectly fluffed up and with good marbling and charred spots, the cheese filling is not too overwhelming. The naan is served with a generous portion of green pea dhal.
This article first appeared in uppre.com