I seem to be getting a lot of invites to try out new restaurants recently. Most of then I turn down because even though they are free I don’t want to eat at those establishments.
I was in two minds whether or not to accept the invitation to eat at the new Banana Tree in Soho.
I’d tried the branch in Angel on one of the Tube Strike Mondays. Ahhhh I miss those days, the only good thing of working over the other side of London. C’mon you greedy tube drivers, I think it’s time for some more pointless strikes so I can have some more days off work.
I was not impressed with the concept nor the food at the Angel branch. I thought it was for people who were shit scared of Asian food and wanted a dumbed down version to get their chops around it.
Finally I relented and mid week we wandered down to the Soho branch with our £60 voucher expecting to get through about half of it. How wrong I was.
The neo industrial look is the matter of course these days, everyone including shops are jumping on the band wagon. I’ll be delighted when someone finally doesn’t do it.
We ordered a beer and a cocktail and 6 of the satay sticks to get us going. The sticks were ok. Nice charring, but really not much taste on the chicken itself. The peanut sauce was pretty good, and I wished I had kept it on the table for the following courses.
We began ordering. Well we had £60 to get through. The Papaya Salad came first and after trying it made me remember why I should not have relented to this freebie offer. Unbelievable it actually had no taste at all. The dressing was non existent and the papaya had no crunch to it. Soft and floopy. I felt really sorry for the fruit to end its life on a plate as part of a poor excuse for a salad.
The Roasted Duck in Hoisin Sauce actually wasn’t that bad. The meat was juicy enough, but the sauce was too loose and a bit over powering.
Next up was the Char Grilled Chicken Bakar Java. The menu said the chicken was marinated in an array of Javanese aromatic spices, grilled slowly to perfection. I’ve no idea what their idea of perfection is, but it was far from mine. The chicken had some nice charring on it, but it was dry and a tad tough. I’ve no idea how long it had been marinating for, but it obviously was not long enough. Those Javanese spices failed to shine through.
I had this served with a Nasi Goreng, which turned out to be a bland egg fried rice. That’s two dull Nasi Gorengs I’ve tasted recently, and both have been a poor substitute for the real deal.
Amazingly in the end we managed to spend £59 on really not much food and a few drinks. But then again we are in Soho.
Banana Tree is what it is really. A pan Asian chain restaurant serving up watered down and bland food to the masses in neo industrial surroundings. It’s gonna make its owners a hell of a lot of money.