Saturday, 18 August 2012

Banana Leaf Indian Restaurant, Currie St

Speed. Price. Quality.

These are the three immutable variables of any given task - including having lunch. Usually, two of these variables can be delivered at the cost of a third. For example - you could have a really fast, amazingly delicious lunch but you'll probably pay a little more than you usually would.

I'm not sure that Banana Leaf Indian Restaurant have heard of this theory...

A friend and I passed by Banana Leaf on our way to lunch along Leigh St a few weeks ago. Outside Banana Leaf looks like any common-or-garden-variety Indian eatery - but the inside is a decorative Taj Mahal (light was awful for photos so don't have one - sorry. There are a few photos on their website though - ). Our interest was piqued and we resolved to return.

I ordered a cheese thosai (for those of you playing at home a thosai or sometimes dosa is a South Indian rice flour pancake) served with dhal, coconut sambal and chilli sauce (for just $8.50 which meets the price variable). And then I waited. And waited. And waited some more - and the opportunity to deliver on the speed variable rapidly past by.

According to my speed/price/quality lunch should therefore have been pretty tasty. It was actually rather ho hum. Not bad - just average.


I was expecting a thosai stuffed with soft Indian cheese - and received one with a rather mean sprinkle of cheddar cheese. The dhal was watery and tasteless but the coconut sambal and chilli sauce packed heaps of flavour.

I'm acutely conscious that I'm judging Banana Leaf on one dish on one day so please don't take my word as gospel but in my opinion you can better faster, cheaper, better curry from the Indian eateries in either the Southern Cross or China Town Food Courts. 

Banana Leaf Indian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Michael's Cantina, Myer Centre Food Court

La Cantina Co didn't launch their Mexican pop up last Friday. The word on street is that Truck Norris had a gas problem. But like a shark with blood in the water I still had a taste for Mexican. This is a problem because the Adelaide CBD doesn't really offer anything I'd call Mexican. Plenty of Tex-Mex, but no actual Mexican.

I ended up at Michael's Cantina in the Myer Centre Food Court - a pseudo-Mex joint run by (I think) a Vietnamese family. It sounds incongruous but it kinda makes sense -  both cuisines have lots of fresh crunchy flavours.

The chicken wrap was exactly that - fresh and crunchy but despite the guacamole not really Mexican. It was also big and cheap. All in all, a satisfactory lunch. But hopefully not a patch on what La Cantina Co will be when it launches.


A final word to the wise - avoid the chips. Ours had been sitting under a heat lamp and therefore had gone limp and soggy and tasted like salty cardboard.

KFC, City Cross Arcade

The Dirty Bird has regularly changing menu of limited time only specials - none of which have been particularly good (I'm thinking particularly of that nacho-cheese-corn-chip abomination where the sauce completely overpowered the taste of the rest of the burger and caused the corn chip layer to lose its crunch - not very well thought out. Or anything with that too-sweet fake-smoky sauce. Blurg!). But I keep ordering from the specials menu because I am ever hopeful that one day I'll find the perfect crunchy chicken. What can I say? I'm a chicken optimist.

Sweet sesame crunch chicken is the new menu item at KFC. Understandably, I got my hopes up - IT ACTUALLY HAS 'CRUNCH' IN THE NAME!! SQUEEEEE!!

In fact, sweet sesame crunch chicken delivered on 2 out 3 promises - and one of those was subtle as a bum full of smarties. (Can you guess which promise wasn't delivered....?)


Sesame seeds? Check! Sweet sauce? Check (but more on this later). Crunch? No bingo. You'd think something with crunch in its name would be crunchy. It wasn't. This may well be because it was sitting under lights for too long but HOW HARD IS IT TO DO CRUNCHY CHICKEN, PEOPLE?

Now, let's talk about the sweet sauce. It's billed as being 'Asian style'. I'm not sure what KFC think is 'Asian style' but I expected a hint of chilli or citrus or ginger or something. Couldn't detect any of those flavours - or any flavours at all for that matter. It was just sweet, sweet and sweet. Did I mention it was sweet? To be fair, the sweet sauce did do a good job of cutting through the salty chicken, which is presumably its purpose.

Conveniently, the sweet sesame crunchy chicken combo comes with a piece of original recipe chicken for comparison. Could I detect any particular difference. The sweet sesame crunch batter was certainly more textured - but not necessarily more crunchy. And the sweet sauce did provide a bit of richness that the original recipe didn't have. But that's about it.

Unless KFC can figure out to pump up and retain the crunch in the allegedly crunchy batter it's not something I'd order again because this is not the perfect crunchy chicken.