First spotted this restaurant chain a few months ago in Angel, with a broke-ass waiting for student loan to drop budget – it was the best to place to go. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of food and price, this time we were invited to review the new branch of Banana Tree in Soho. Located right next to Byron and Wahaca – my favourite area for lunch after work, the area is filled with great restaurants. We were given £60 credit which is a LOT when you can get dinner for around £10 so we had to go for 3-course dinner + 2 drinks each. They don’t do desserts! More on the reverse.
follow me on twitter
I met my other half after work and headed for the restaurant around 7pm – it was a Tuesday night so wasn’t expecting it to be too busy. I can’t deal with busy restaurants where you can’t hear each other speak but when we got the entrance to Banana Tree Soho. It was EMPTY which made us quite apprehensive about going in but it was nice to see that they have around 7-10 waiters & waitresses on stand by. Why? Because I’m sure you’ve all wasted a good 20 minutes of your time waiting for a waiter to come around just to give you the bill. Sigh.
The Design & Atmosphere
Look at the imagery above. Dig it? I did. The dimly lit interior was perfect for an early evening dinner and catch up. The industrial interior with concrete tables, piping and ventilation boxes all works well, love the use of wood as it adds warmth to the industry. They haven’t gone over board with the fancy decorations and stayed true to the restaurants in the motherland. The atmosphere was pretty dead at the start but it completely changed by the time we left, the place was PACKED! full of Soho workers.
I’m going to let my other half take over for parts of this section. Mainly because I can’t be arsed to write and she loves to talk/eat/sleep food.
Thai Tamarind and Garlic Chicken wings:
Amazing. The caramalised glace is so rich in flavour and I wanted more, but I had to stop myself from ordering another plate of it to leave just about enough room for everything else. I’m glad that he ordered this and was so kind to let me have one. – Tin
Hmmph, the wings were mine. You know I can’t go anywhere without eating chicken. Let’s just say the last time I cheated on chicken with steak…the results weren’t a pretty sight. Gross. These were delicious! nice way to start a meal, I could have gone for 3-4 plates of them.
Vietnamese Lettuce Wrap with Spiced Lamb:
To be honest, I was expecting massively crunchy fresh lettuce leaves as they do in this South London Chinese restaurant where I first discovered lettuce wraps, but no. The leaves were pretty small if you ask me and there was only so much you could stuff it with? The lamb, although dry, didn’t taste bad when mixed with everything else. My favourite part of the plate was the carrots in the bowl marinated in different spices. Oh and the roundish spring rolls that you could dip in the vinegary sauce. - Tin
Tamarind Crispy Fish with Thai Basil Glaze:
It wasn’t as tasty as it sounded – there was barely any glaze on my pan-fried tilapia. Disappointing, ‘cos I was really looking forward to all that tamarind and Thai basil to really sweep me away. I ordered it with the ‘Banana Tree Supplement Special’ along with this main, which had included sesame glass noodle salad – yummy, sweet corn cakes, spicy prawn crackers (which tasted weirdly stale and off to me) and steamed jasmine rice in the deal. The portions are great, but sadly it wasn’t as exciting as expected. – Tin
Ayam Kunyit Chicken Curry:
I always end up going for the item with Chicken in it, definitely need to start experimenting with my food. So I did and guess what I went for? Chicken curry. Strange Malaysian yellow chicken curry that contained a lot of turmeric, lemongrass, shallots and COCONUT MILK. Far from the best curry I’ve ever had but still quite tasty. I recommend you have this with the steamed yasmin rice – perfect combination.
Lychee and Lemongrass Mocktail:
THE BEST LYCHEE MOCKTAIL THAT I’VE EVER HAD! The only lychee mojito that I’ve ever had, but still… I love it. The fact that they give you approximately 5 or so actual lychee’s to fish out once your done sipping away is what makes it a real treat. The lemongrass was for decorative purposes, but is useful when trying to get those juicy lychee’s. It’s very similar to the Rubicon lychee drink, but better. Had to order another glass of this. The price is debatable though, would’ve preferred if it was cheaper since it wasn’t priced too far off from some of the main meals? C’mon, it’s not like it had alcohol in it and I’d love to be able to casually afford this when I crave it during the week?
I went back to Banana tree for lunch with some of my colleagues just the other day right, the service wasn’t as impressive compared to when I went with my fella!? I had to somewhat take back all the compliments I had said to all of them about the restaurant and the recommendations that I had made. The food lacked taste, besides the noodles. I think it was the Kway Teow Mee Noodles that one of the other ladies ordered – I had a try only to eventually realise that I had ordered the wrong meal of the Mango and Lime Crispy Chicken dish. My meal was standard I guess, I liked the lunchtime deal where you can upgrade your meal with a £1 – glass noodle salad and jasmine rice on the side. I’ll forever be drawn to dishes containing mango.
The Ginger and Lemongrass herbal tea was not nice I must say. I would’ve easily opt’d for the Lychee Mocktail, but I’m afraid the price and super cold weather gave me no choice. The lemongrass in the tea was really overpowering and made it real bitter right ’til the last sip. I was paying for it, so I had to force myself to drink as much of it as possible. We even requested for some honey to add in… after we finally got our hands on some honey, (yes, the staff had unfortunately forgotten our sweet request) I mixed in 2 spoonfuls to basically cancel out the tea’s taste. Some of my colleagues were not impressed with the food, but were fans of the decor. Ah well, what can you do ey? - Tin
On point. The staff were very attentive the whole way through – always asked us if we needed anything or if we didn’t like anything. They were also very knowledgeable, we did ask them to suggest a starter for us to have. Turned out to be the best one!
Enjoyuable experience! We’ve never had this cuisine before so it’s great that they’ve picked the best location to add this new branch. In a place swarming with restaurants from all over the world, Banana Tree definitely has something unique to offer. Very relaxed, nice food, AMAZING DRINKS (Mocktails that is) and attentive staff. The prices are very reasonable as you can get a good meal and drink for around £12. I just wish there was a dessert menu :( #fat