Wednesday, 14 September 2011

A Taste of Malaysia on Vancouver's Broadway

With so much time spent with relatives, finding time for me and my parents to eat by ourselves, let alone me and my friends living in Vancouver, was a challenge.  With a little bit of luck, though, I was able to meet up with two friends and their daughter in spite of our respective hectic schedules.  With one of them working at the major health care complex near W. Broadway and Cambie St., and that intersection right on the Canada Line, my main transit route from my grandparents' to downtown, it was a no-brainer to have lunch in that area.  Out of a few possible choices, we ended up going for a Malaysian-style lunch at Banana Leaf Malaysian Cuisine, a local franchise.
Kalamansi Soda
Having already done quite a bit of walking by exploring the former Olympic Village, also known as Southeast False Creek, a cold refreshing drink was in order right away.  I was suggested the homemade kalamansi soda.  Also known as the calamondin, the kalamansi is a small citrus fruit with a sour, juicy pulp like a lime.  Mixed with club soda and some sugar, the kalamansi soda was a nice, refreshing drink after a long walk under a warm sun and in anticipation of more walking.
L to R: Roti Canai, Vegetable Spring Rolls.
For starters we ordered two appetizers for all to share: Roti Canai and Vegetable Spring Rolls.  Originally from India, roti, a layered flat bread, has become a popular Malaysian food item.  This particular dish was served with a curry-based dip.  Though the dip was perhaps a bit on the runny side for my personal preference, I definitely could not complain about the texture of the roti or the flavouring of the dip, including having just the right zing of spiciness.  The spring rolls were stuffed with shredded jicama root, green beans, celery, cabbage and carrots, and they were served with a sweet chili dipping sauce.  I found the jicama to be more to my liking as it was not as starchy as taro root, an ingredient used in one Chinese version of spring rolls.
Nasi Lemak with Sambal Seafood - Coconut rice, dried anchovies, cucumber, egg, peanuts, rendang beef, sambal fish, prawns & squid.
Next up we had our own main courses.  I for one decided to go for Nasi Lemak with Sambal Seafood.  This one was quite a spicy dish, but it was one I could still (just) tolerate.  The meats were coated with savoury sauces, some of them spicy such as the sambal fish.  The cucumber and even the coconut rice helped dampen the heat on the tongue for me somewhat, though even after I left the restaurant there was still some zing in my mouth.  If there was one concern about this dish, it would be that for some reason it felt on the heavy side, though to this day I haven't been able to figure out why this was possible.

With a city as large and as multicultural as Vancouver, it is not surprising to see franchise restaurants offering more exotic cuisines.  Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come as cities like Vancouver continue to grow, evolve and welcome more people from all over the world.  Service at the W. Broadway location of Banana Leaf was efficient (with so many nearby health care and office workers on lunch break, efficiency is a must on this stretch of W. Broadway), and the food tasted pretty good.  It had been a while since I had Malaysian cuisine, and this lunch certainly satisfied that particular void.

Name: Banana Leaf Malaysian Cuisine
Address: 820 W. Broadway, Vancouver, BC (also three other locations in Vancouver) 
Cuisine: Malaysian
Price Range: $15-$50
Accessible: Yes

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