Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Malaysian Dining in Houston, Texas

While I'm living in Penang, I constantly long for good Tex-Mex and Texas BBQ and dedicate my home visits to getting my fill. After I move back to Austin for good, I know that I'll start craving all the delicious Malaysian food that I've tasted since I landed here. Luckily for me, there's an authentic Malaysian restaurant in Houston's Chinatown called Banana Leaf. It's popular enough that they opened up a second location across the street from the first one. Last summer, a group of my younger cousins, my kids, and I dined at Banana Leaf so they could sample the cuisine.

The kids and I agreed that the flavor was very authentic and representative of the hawker centre food you can get in Penang. The downside was that the prices were definitely American, not the ridiculously cheap US$2-3 meals I get in Malaysia. We went for a very late lunch, so the restaurant wasn't busy at all. My daughter was excited by the sections named after various Malaysian towns like Ipoh. My sons thought the place was different from a typical hawker center in that this restaurant had a) air conditioning; b) good quality napkins; c) clean bathrooms; and d) no stray animals running through.  All plusses in my book!

My favorite dish, Char Kway Teow, was spot on. Yay!! I'm so glad that it won't be exiting my life once I'm back in Texas.

Stir-fried Flat Noodle (Chow Kueh Teow)
Malaysian famous stir fried flat noodle with shrimp, calamari, bean sprouts, egg, soy sauce and chili paste.

When the Roti Canai came out, one of my cousins the same age as my kid bit in and started saying, "Mmmmm... this is soooo good."  She'd dined here a few times before and was quite eager to accompany us there this summer day. It was a little bit more buttery than what I am accustomed to in Penang, but I'm a butter lover, so I won't complain.

Indian Pancake (Roti Canai)
All time Malaysian favorite, crispy style pancake served with curry dipping sauce

My picky-eater daughter gobbled up the Sweet and Sour Chicken. I like to think of it as her broadening her horizons from just the Chinese-American version of this dish to trying the Malaysian style, too.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

My oldest boy ordered his hawker centre standard, Curry Mee, and gave it a thumbs up.

Curry Seafood Noodle
Egg noodle served in curry broth with seafood and bean sprouts

Banana Leaf Curry Chicken
Chicken cooked over low heat with lemongrass and chili paste and simmered in thick coconut gravy

Malaysian Shredded Roasted Duck
Very similar to Peking Duck

Singapore Fried Rice
Fried rice served with shrimp, calamari, BBQ pork and vegetables

Water Spinach (Kang Kung) Belacan
Sauteed convolvulus with spicy Malaysian shrimp paste sauce
(Note that the menu says "convulse" but this is a misspelling and no convulsions should occur.)

The menu at Banana Leaf is quite extensive and representative of typical Malaysian cuisine. Despite the name, this isn't true banana leaf dining since everything was eaten off of plates with cutlery.

There's another Malaysian restaurant in the same strip called Mamak which I'm sure I'll enjoy, too, when I get back to Texas for good. Asam Laksa on the north side of Houston is another place I'll have to try.

Banana Leaf I
9889 Bellaire Boulevard, Suite 311
Houston, Texas

Banana Leaf II
9896 Bellaire Boulevard, Suite A
Houston, Texas

Click here for the website for both Banana Leaf restaurants.


  1. I remember this! Great food and a great day in general :) When I saw the title of your post, I knew exactly what it would be about. Hope you're doing well!

    1. I'm so glad I could share that day with you. And thanks for taking the pictures and keeping notes on what we ordered.

  2. It's great to know you can find comfort nowadays just about anywhere you go.


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