Friend from Taiwan – Lunch at Banana Leaf Apolo

A few years back, J. went for this tour of Taiwan that was sponsored partially by a Taiwanese group. It was targeted at overseas Chinese (i.e. not from People’s Republic of China, a.k.a. China or from Republic of China, a.k.a. Taiwan).

The tour itself was taken by a group of university undergraduates, a number of whom were majoring in tourism. Their leader, Dab–, decided to visit Southeast Asia, and had first visited a friend of hers (who was also one of the tour guides on the Taiwan trip) who stayed in Kuala Lumpur (the capital of Malaysia).

It’s amazing that after all these years, Dab– still managed to contact the group representative, QG. One fine, overcast Saturday morning, she took a comfortable coach ride down from Kuala Lumpur to the DFS at Orchard where QG met her. They then took a train ride to Little India where the entire bunch (who could be contacted) met.

1 day can’t compare to 21 days (the duration of the Taiwan tour). Still, they had to return the favour in any small way, they thought.

Little India is a great place for food. Now, given that Dab–‘s from Taiwan, the group thought that it was hardly suitable to eat Chinese food. Given that Dab– had been staying in Malaysia for the last couple of weeks, Malay food… already done. Hence, we went to Banana Leaf Apolo restaurant.

[No pictures of the food were taken. J. regrets that terribly. Prices not listed as J. didn’t order the food. He just ate. The pig.]

True to the name of the restaurant, each person was given one banana leaf. The server then came by a doled out the rice and sides. Main dishes came in bowls or dishes.

What was ordered:

Nasi Briyani – It was fragrant, tasty and chock full of spices. Instead of ordering a personal set each, the group decided to share three main dishes and order the rice (nasi) to go. It came with two side dishes that went well with the poppadum (a flatbread made from lentil flour).

Fish head curry ($19.00) – J. loves fish head curry. He gladly devoured as much of the fish as he could without feeling guilty he was depriving others. This dish was very good, but it defies description. The best word for it would be “satisfying”.

Mutton Rendang – Fairly good. Another dish that J. likes. However, it could have been a bit more tender. And the taste was slightly on the strong side.

Some chicken thingy – Forgettable. Chicken is for people who can’t think of what to eat. Sorry, friends.

Lassi – A cooling Indian yoghurt drink. It was a bit too sweet for J.’s taste, he prefers it barely sweetened with a flavour stronger than the overpowering sweetness. As it was, it reminded him of any yoghurt drink from the supermarket.

Perhaps due to the group’s obvious “tourist-y” feel, the enthusiastic photo-taking or QG gleefully telling the bemused waiter “She’s from Taiwan!“, they were very generous with their food.

QG requested, “Can we have a bit more poppadum please?” and was promptly rewarded with two baskets (previously only one). After the guys in the group requested for a second helping of briyani rice, J. was taken aback when the server doled out a huge serving easily one and a half times his original serving. The server then dramatically said, “I leave the rice here!” and tossed the serving bowl onto the adjourning table. Would J. go there again? He’d definitely consider it.

Banana Leaf Apolo
48 Serangoon Road
#01-32 Little India Arcade
Singapore 217959
Telephone (65) 6297 1595

After lunch, the group braved the torrential rain and went to the Esplanade, the durian of Singapore and cultural centre for the staging of many world-class acts. It was followed by a walk (after the rain) to the Merlion, currently in front of Fullerton Hotel (once the post office of the colonial era).

[At this point, J. was having severe post-prandial sleepiness and had to visit Starbucks to get a caffeine fix.]

A quick walk to Raffles Place MRT followed as the gang tried to escape the rain that was once again pouring down. This was when J. bid fairwell to Dab–, QG, HY, 八百, Ch, 大姐.

They went on to Suntec City to visit the world’s largest fountain, the Fountain of Wealth.

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