Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Banana Tree Canteen review (Islington) – a lump in the throat

Address: 418 St John Street,
London EC1V 4NJ
Tel: 020 7278 7565
Nearest Tube station: Angel

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £15 pp (for a main and drink each)
Service charge: 10%
Taste: **
Service: ***
Ambience: **
We were waiting for JM who got held up when he missed an overland train to London Bridge. After making a reservation at Sasa Sushi, we had some time to spare and decided to head to The Banana Tree Canteen for a snack in the meantime.

We have been to The Banana Tree Canteen along St. John Street only once before and we weren’t very impressed by it. At least I wasn’t thrilled by the mee goreng that I ordered for it turned out like a huge plate of carbohydrate doused with maggi chilli sauce, nothing more. That probably explained why we seldom venture south of City Road since then (barring Farringdon and Exmouth Market of course).


But we did remember The Banana Tree for its banana fritters (goreng pisang). Banana fritters used to be a popular snack when I was a kid back home. An irony really considering that it’s pretty warm in Southeast Asia and the last thing you would like to munch on would be a piping hot deep fried battered banana. Anyway, each piece generally goes for less than a dollar (50p) and my favourite stall peddling it is at the Longhouse along Upper Thompson Road. It remains popular till today and the stall will just shut for the day once its supplies of banana runs out.


Anyway, banana fritters was the sole reason why we decided to pop into The Banana Tree for a snack on that day. Its banana fritters (£3.65) is served with a scoop of sweet corn ice-cream. One thing that we didn’t remember was the copious amount of golden syrup drizzled on the fritters. It was as if the fritters couldn’t be trusted to deliver. The thick syrup caused me to end up with an uncomfortable lump in my throat.


We were a bit peckish as it was drawing near to dinner time and asked for the Thai tamarind and garlic chicken wings (£4.75) as well. The roasted wings were glazed with, you guessed it, golden syrup. The syrup was so overdone that it overwhelmed any tamarind or garlic. Perhaps the dish should be more appropriately renamed as ‘golden wings’ or even ‘honey wings’.

It’s a pity really. I was just thinking the other day that if only there is a Southeast Asian eatery in Angel’s vicinity. Sedap over at Old Street is doing a thriving business while Puji Puji could do better if it’s not in the middle of Balls Pond Road. The Banana Tree, however, is exactly like how I remembered it before – a chain restaurant with thumping music, serving Tiger beer and anglicised version of Southeast Asian cuisine.

Banana Tree Canteen on Urbanspoon

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Dave said...

I thought it was crap also.

C K said...

Glad to know that I'm not the only one who think that. Notice that you're in Islington area as well, which is your favourite in the area?