I’ve spent a lot of time this month, an unhealthy amount to be fair, ruminating about what and where I’ll be eating once I’m unleashed back into Oxford’s restaurants come December.
And right up there is Banana Tree. Now I know it’s a chain, although there are only eight of them, but as a family we love it and the kids choose the George Street restaurant time and time again.
I’m with them on that, because the one dish I’ve been dreaming about endlessly while staring out of my home office window is their Singapore Laksa – the ultimate comfort food.
And having packed in a visit just before lockdown, I can share our fabulous meal with you to enable you to have something to look forward to in December, or even order a takeaway in the meantime.
Banana Tree always has fabulous deals on as well, especially at lunchtime, and we enjoyed the extended Eat Out To Help Out offer of ‘two for one mains’ plus ‘two for one cocktails and cocktails’.
And while some are understandably cynical about Pan-Asian menus, at Banana Tree they do it really well, largely thanks to manager Anwill So. Plus it’s brilliant for vegetarians and vegans, with a huge separate menu to choose from.
Which meant that we could go all out, and we did. Starting with the aubergine half with aromatic caramel sauce. I’m not a big fan of aubergine on the whole, but at Banana Tree it comes into its own.
Dark, silly and smooth, marinaded and served with crispy shallots and fresh herbs, it awakens your taste buds in every way.
My son opted for the Malaysian Kajang Satay which you can have as four or eight sticks served with Banana Tree’s heavenly satay sauce, which I always finish off with a spoon. Served with rice and a spicy salad, it too hits the spot and there is a vegan version for those wanting to avoid meat.
All of which were literally a teaser for the main event – the laksa, which you can now have for starter or main. One chicken, one tofu (there’s also a prawn option), enveloped in a the heady mix of oriental vegetables, herbs and noodles enveloped in a thick, silky, aromatic sauce.
Not only does it taste absolutely divine; just the right mix of colour, taste and textures, but eating it with a wooden ladle adds a bit of fun. Just writing about it makes my mouth-water.
Scooping up the last spoonful, and almost draining the bowl, we were replete, slowly coming down from our gastronomic heights to enjoy the ambiance and decor, despite the new social distancing measures.
As for dessert – the pineapple and banana fritters with ice cream every time. For my son his favourite – the green Thai coconut stuffed Pandan pancakes and vanilla ice cream.
So you can see why I’m yearning to return, counting down the days in fact, ready to immerse myself once more in George Street’s version of Indo-China. See you in December.
Banana Tree is at 63 George Street, Oxford, OX1 2BQ