Banana leaf meals are one of life’s greatest pleasures. There’s nothing quite like that feeling of sitting down at a crowded restaurant, having someone hand you a fresh banana leaf and then watching as your server ladles all manner of delicious vegetables, curries and other bits and bobs that make up a traditional banana leaf meal.
Aunty Manju’s has become my go-to place for a yummy banana leaf meal, especially on weekends when my husband and baby girl come along for the ride (she’s going to be a huge banana leaf fan someday!).
The eatery has become incredibly popular since it first opened a few years ago. Try heading there for lunch on a weekend and you’ll know what I mean! The place is perpetually thronging with other banana leaf aficionados, and with good reason.
The banana leaf meals at Aunty Manju’s seem to be prepared with more love than garden variety banana leaf restaurants. The kitchen staff have apparently been trained by the eponymous Aunty Manju herself (otherwise known as Manchula Kandasamy), so I’d wager that the recipes are trawled from her extensive repository.
A basic banana leaf meal at Aunty Manju’s costs RM8.50. The meal begins when the customary fresh banana leaf is placed on your table. This is followed by four very generous servings of vegetables, including the eatery’s popular taufu sambal, which is spicy and laden with flavour. Then the other accoutrements arrive in the form of rice, and a choice of chicken or fish curry (you can opt for dal if you’re vegetarian).
I would highly recommend the fish curry, as it is incredibly full of flavour and has lovely fishy undertones, swirled in with spices. You’ll also get as many crunchy papadoms as you want and a serving of piping-hot rasam (a tamarind-based South Indian soup that aids digestion) which is delightful and hits all the right piquant spots.
You can also opt to pimp your banana leaf meal with additional accoutrements, like the fish cutlets (RM3.50 a piece) which are a little like croquettes, with a crispy batter coating a filling that includes potatoes, fish, curry leaves and an assortment of spices. The fish cutlets at Aunty Manju’s are stuffed with lots of fish (some eateries cheat and use more potato instead) and are bursting with flavour. It’s easy to fall in love with these little morsels of delight, so my advice is to order at least two for yourself – just in case your dinner companion wants a “taste” and ends up finishing it, which has been known to happen (I’m looking at you, husband!).
Aunty Manju’s is also renowned for its fried chicken (RM8.50 for a single serving). Portions are actually really generous, so you could potentially share a single serving. The fried chicken is excellent – lightly crispy on the outside, with tender, juicy meat inside.
To cap your meal, have a glass of hot masala tea (RM4.50). The tea is made with fresh milk and and has lightly spice-laden flavours running through it. It’s a liquid delight that soothes and sates in equal measure and provides a lovely denouement to your meal here.
18 Jalan Tun Mohd Fuad 1
Taman Tun Dr Ismail
60000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-7733 5954
Open daily 7am to 1am