Banana Leaf Rice At Restoran Kanna Curry House

On weekends, Wuan and I would invariably ask each other the same questions: “What to eat?” and “Where to eat?” We often eat out at shopping malls because we spend quite a fair amount of time there for their accessibility and air-conditioned environment. We have eaten at most of the restaurants in those places and have gotten bored with the same food. We wanted to look for new flavours to titillate our taste buds. In the end, we would invariably end up eating at those few shopping malls because we either could not decide on what to eat or were not sure if the restaurants that we wanted to go to elsewhere were accessible.

Banana leaf rice at Restoran Kanna Curry House
Banana leaf rice at Restoran Kanna Curry House, Section 17 PJ.

The same happened last Saturday. As we threw the questions back and forth, I suggested banana leaf rice at Restoran Kanna Curry House. The last time we had banana leaf rice was in December last year in Penang. I checked the GPS map for the restaurant’s location. It is just off the Rothman Roundabout. We have never been to the restaurant before although we pass by the roundabout every now and then on our way back from 1 Utama or Ikano Power Centre.

We were not familiar with Section 17 of Petaling Jaya. We got lost even with guidance from the GPS. When we finally found our bearings and found the restaurant, we developed an instant liking for the place. The restaurant was situated on one of two blocks of shophouses on high ground overlooking a road below. The lush clumps of bamboo and mature trees on the slope invoked a sense of serenity. Traffic was light. Parking spaces were ample. There was a police station a few doors from the restaurant at the next block.

Friendly waiter at Restoran Kanna Curry House
Friendly waiter at Restoran Kanna Curry House, Section 17 PJ.

There was a ramp up to the five foot way, a little steep, but Wuan had no problems getting me up and into the restaurant that was abuzz with activity. The waiters busied themselves with taking orders and serving food. We found a table at the back. The weather was humid. The ceiling fans and mist fans made it bearable. Service was prompt and friendly. We ordered two banana leaf rice. The side dishes that we wanted, namely chicken varuval and deep-fried bitter gourd were sold out. Wuan settled for chicken rendang instead.

The atmosphere was lively with a steady stream of customers coming and going. We tucked heartily into our food made more delicious by several types of curry gravy that we kept adding to our rice for that extra spicy flavour. In fact I ate a little too much. Some of the waiters were having their lunch and one of them asked me if I wanted extra rice. I told him I have had enough but he insisted that I should accept the ladleful of rice that he was offering.

Deep-fried bananas, curry puffs, and vadais at Restoran Kanna Curry House
Deep-fried bananas, curry puffs, and vadais at Restoran Kanna Curry House.

Apart from the food, this restaurant gets extra points for the ramp and friendly service. Banana leaf rice is RM5 per person for as much as one could eat. The price for the side orders and drinks were stated on the signboard. The next time we eat at Kanna Curry House, we want to try the deep fried chicken and fishes as well, and not forgetting the vadais, curry puffs and deep-fried bananas. They looked tempting but we were already too full from just eating the banana leaf rice alone.

Pisang Goreng

As I got nearer, I could smell the aroma wafting from the boiling oil. I was on my way home. I stopped my bicycle right in front of the cart where the pleasant smell emanated from. The cart strategically occupied a spot under a tree at the spacious car park outside the teachers’ training college in Hamilton Road. I think it was called Malaysian Teachers Training College, MTC in short, or something like that. The base of the trees were ringed with bricks and cement.

Right across the road was Convent Green Lane. School was in session. I could hear voices of teachers and students. I could see their heads on the first floor over the tall hedge and through the louvered glass windows. Towering casuarina trees lined the fence inside the school. They provided shade and littered the place with pines and tiny cones at the same time. The two-lane road was rather quiet, save for the occasional cars or motorcycles passing by.

The sizzling from the big black kuali pulled my attention back to the purpose I was there for. The uncle, as we would call all middle-aged men irrespective whether we were related or not, was gently feeding the bubbling oil with slices of batter-coated sweet potatoes. A cluster of ripened bananas hung from the roof of the cart. Some of them were already turning dark. Greasy fumes rose from the boiling oil as it simmered and frothed.

Uncle lifted his eyes off the kuali and looked at me, his hands still deftly feeding the slices of potato into the oil. I pointed to the wire tray where the crusty pieces of fritters were laid out. There were bananas, sweet potatoes, yam, cekodok (mashed banana fritter), lek tau (green bean patty) and tnee koay (glutinous rice cake) sandwiched in sweet potato and yam, all nicely browned.

“Keng jio,” I told him, indicating I wanted one with my index finger.

He nodded but did not speak as he slid the last slice of sweet potato into the oil. The fritters bobbed up and down in the oil, slowly turning a golden brown. He picked a banana fritter off the tray with a food tong and placed it in a bag made from brown paper. I dug into my pocket and fished out one 20 sen and one 10 sen coins. I handed him the money with one hand and received the bag with the fritter with the other. The oil began to soak through and stain the paper.

I let half of the fritter slide out from the bag and sank my teeth into it, rolling the piece in my mouth from side to side to prevent my tongue from getting burnt. The crust was fragrant. The pisang raja within was slightly sourish and still piping hot. I could see vapour escaping from the bitten off end. A few more mouthfuls and all that left was the greasy brown paper bag with morsels of crusts at the bottom. My appetite satiated, I continued on my ride home.