31 July 2010

Banana Palm: Vietnamese Cuisine, Coogee (23 July 2010)

260 Arden Street, Coogee NSW 2034
Phone (02) 9665 1212
Monday to Saturday: 5.30 pm – 10.30 pm


My new favourite Vietnamese

A friends birthday banquet brings me to this dimly lit and beautifully decorated restaurant on the outskirts of Coogee Bay far away from backpacker central. It was also recommended to me by a work colleague so I was looking forward to the opportunity of trying. It has a respectable 7.5 (45 reviews) on Eatability but many of the negative comments have been about slow service in particular. After the initial hurdle of our group working out the dishes for a custom made banquet for 21 guests our dining and friendly service experience was very smooth and within a reasonable time without feeling too rushed.

The impressive sized Deep fried stuffed prawns with minced pork, served with spicy plum sauce ($13) were a good tasty starter although I think it could have benefitted from a home made classic Vietnamese nuoc cham dipping sauce rather than using a bottled sweet chilli sauce. The Salt and pepper chilli squid ($13) was delightfully crispy and tender as hoped but a bit more freshly fried chilli and shallots wouldn't go astray to add some extra flavour depth and punch — one of my favourites is still from Pho 236 in Newtown. The Fresh Vietnamese rolls with pork, prawns and fresh herns wrapped in rice paper ($10) were wrapped very differently to what I usually see but still worked well delivering the right amount of balance of fresh ingredients. The Vietnamese fresh rolls at Thanh Binh still reign supreme for me, especially their fried version.

A reasonably priced Salad of lotus stem with chicken breast, prawns and peanuts ($12) provides delicious slivers of lotus stem which reminds me of the Beef salad with lotus root at Saigon Saigon. Stir fried beef with lemongrass and chilli ($19.50) is dressed with refreshing coriander and the Wok tossed crispy pork with chilli and shallots ($20) has a similar crispy coating as the Salt and Pepper Squid. Warm roasted duck breast salad with mixed herbs and chilli ($22) has tender meat as does the Braised stuffed chicken with mushroom and water chestnut ($21.50) which I'd happily order again. Good depth of flavour is appreciated in the Lamb shank curry with sweet potato and eggplant ($22) with fall-of-the-bone meat to be had. A crowd favourite of Seared scallops with shitake mushroom, pine nuts and ginger ($25) goes quickly and a must for any scallop and mushroom lover like myself.

Thanh Binh has been a long standing favourite of mine for Vietnamese, especially for their fried Vietnamese Rolls and Green Papaya Salad but I'd be happy to return to Banana Palm to explore more of their interesting dishes, especially the Soft-Shell Crab which I didn't get to try this time.

SNAPSHOT REVIEW:
PROS: Nice decor and seating, Good food presentation and quality, Fresh and interesting dishes, Reasonably priced
CONS: Service may be slower when it's very busy, Pricey corkage at $7 per bottle
MUST TRY: Salad of lotus stem with chicken breast, prawns and peanuts; Seared scallops with shitake mushroom, pine nuts and ginger. Hopefully Soft-Shell Crab next time.



Deep fried stuffed prawns with minced pork, served with spicy plum sauce $13

Salt and pepper chilli squid $13

Goi Coun: Fresh Vietnamese rolls with pork, prawns and fresh herns wrapped in rice paper $10

Salad of lotus stem with chicken breast, prawns and peanuts $12
SIMON FAVOURITE :-)

Stir fried beef with lemongrass and chilli $19.50

Wok tossed crispy pork with chilli and shallots $20

Warm roasted duck breast salad with mixed herbs and chilli $22

Braised stuffed chicken with mushroom and water chestnut $21.50
SIMON FAVOURITE :-)

Lamb shank curry with sweet potato and eggplant $22

Seared scallops with shitake mushroom, pine nuts and ginger $25
SIMON FAVOURITE :-)

The bill for 21 guests

Dining area

Lounge and bar area

Nice decor



5 comments:

Cherry Blossom Cupcakes said...

Oh my, that salt and pepper squid looks so amazing. I am salivating!!!

joey@FoodiePop said...

Wow, looks quite good! Love a good Vietnamese. Great review Simon.

john@hennedsfood said...

Such beautiful food. Looks great Simon! The corkage amount is a bit of a joke

Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said...

Went here years ago and did love the food. That salt and pepper squid looks ultra crispy mmm.

Simon Food Favourites said...

hi cherry blossom cupcakes, it's a pretty good one actually. i'd happily order it again.

hi joey, i would never think there was such nice place in coogee so i'm so glad to know about it now. i love good Vietnamese too.

hi john, yeah that corkage is way too steep. it's a bit fine dining pricey but there's some reasonably priced bottles to buy off the menu though.

hi angie, i love a good crispy salt and pepper squid. they obviously get the oil hot enough in this kitchen.

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