When I moved to Canberra 6.5 years ago, I would often walk past Banana Leaf in civic to get to the Canberra Centre. Seeing the multiple award winning signage got me intrigued and its been on my list to try ever since. I was finally able to try it out for dinner with some friends before walking over to see Dave Hughes do his stand up comedy show at the National Conventional Centre.

We were shown to our table and our candle lit once seated. All tables that had been reserved were equipped with plates, cutlery, wine glasses, water tumblers, menus and white linen napkins.

My eyes are drawn to the far bright green feature wall where three drawings of banana leaves hang. It’s warm and cosy inside with the heater cranked up that cold night.

There were so many delicious sounding dishes on the menu that I wanted to try.  I finally decided on the lomprisht ($28.90) consisting of basmati rice with fish fricadel, chicken and vegetable curries wrapped in banana leaves and baked. The menu states this is baked to enhance the rich flavours of this traditional Dutch-inspired dish. It’s also served with condiments of sambol, mild curry, boiled egg and garnished with pickled vegetables.

As I unwrapped the leaves to see what lay inside, I was entranced with the mouth-watering aroma. This tasted just as good as it smelled and was packed with so much flavour and spice. I absolutely loved this dish! Plenty of chunks of chicken and a little bit of fish. The rice had absorbed all the wonderful juices and curry. The extra pot of curry on the side was watery but still had a lot of flavour and I happily added this to the lomprisht. The crunchy pickled vegetables helped add some zest to the meal. The portion size is huge and I couldn’t finish it all – pretty much a massive brick-shaped meal stuffed full of delicious rice, chicken and fish. Really happy with my choice, very filling and highly recommend it.

A friend ordered the Sri Lankan style chicken curry and rice with black and white curries, coconut sambol, served with a pappadam ($27.90). I thought this looked the most impressive of all the dishes.

Another friend had the chicken biryani ($26.90).

And another ordered the string hoppers ($27.90) with chicken curry and accompaniments. (I first tried string hoppers and Sri Lankan food for the first time at Camellia restaurant in Manuka and it was amazing!) My friend was really happy with the dish here.

This restaurant has several gluten-free, as well as vegetarian, options. This is definitely a restaurant I need to go back to. Service is good – I was greeted when I walked inside, shown to my table, and a glass of water filled for me. Linen napkins are placed on everyone’s laps before meals arrived. We were checked on by staff to see how our meals were going and if we needed more drinks etc. A minor hiccup at the end when I’d asked for the bill which never arrived, so we walked to the front counter to pay, but that’s really a very minor concern. If you love curries, you must try some Sri Lankan food!

Note: The toilets are located outside the restaurant and you need to press a button before exiting outside to open the toilet doors. There are signs with instructions but I completely missed it. 

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Foodgasm 8/10

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