Banana Tree Canteen, Indochina Kitchen @ Angel, Islington

Angel(エンジェル)駅の南、St. John’s Street(セント・ジョンズ・ストリート)にあるBanana Tree Canteenは、ベトナム、ラオス、カンボジア、タイなどインドシナ半島や、マレー半島、シンガポールなど東南アジア料理のお店。Angelの他、Soho(ソーホー)、Clapham Junction(クラッパム・ジャンクション)、Maida Vale(マイダ・ヴェール)、Bayswater(ベイズウォーター)とロンドンに5店舗展開するミニ・チェーンだ(今日まで知らなかったけど)。

店内はシンプルでモダンなつくりだけれど、全体的に地味で目立たないし、Banana Tree(バナナの木)という店名もロゴも、今イチ冴えない。ウェイター&ウェイトレスは見た限り東欧人で、本場の味は到底期待しなかったけど、近所に住んでいた時試しに行ってみたら、これが当たり!使用するフレッシュ・ハーブは、カンボジアやタイ、ベトナムの肥沃なメコン流域から、ドライ・スパイスはマレー半島から取り寄せ、本場の味を作り出している。オープンキッチンには、東南アジア人とおぼしきシェフたちが忙しく立ち働く。計3回行ったけれど、料理はいつも新鮮で外れがなく、しかもリーズナブル。ビール1本頼んで、チップも込みで一人20ポンドも払えば、お腹いっぱいになる。東南アジア料理は脂っこいイメージがあるけれど、意外とお腹にもたれない。

ダンス・シアターの Sadler’s Wells Theatreサドラーズ・ウェルズ劇場)が近くにあり、公演前後は混雑するので、7時〜10時の間、普通に食事する時間帯の方が空いている。ロンドンの東南アジア・レストランで一押しのお店。

If you want to try good South East Asian food, go Banana Tree Canteen on St. John’s Street, south of Angel station. This “Indochina kitchen” is a mini-chain with five restaurants in Soho, Clapham Junction, Maida Vale, and Bayswater, as well as in Angel (I didn’t know it is a chain until I searched the restaurant today). The dishes and specialities at Banana Tree is from the Indochina region, countries of South East Asia that include Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and the peninsula of Malaysia and Singapore.

Though interior is simple & modern, the restaurant doesn’t have strong impression or looks rather dull and boring. The name “Banana Tree” and its logo is also a bit banal and cheap. Waiters & waitresses are all Eastern Europeans when we went, therefore, we didn’t expect authentic East Asian food for the first time, but we went there just because we lived in walking distance. However, surprisingly the food was much better than we expected. We’ve been there three times, and the food was always in good standard. South East Asian-looking chefs were working hard in the open kitchen, visible from the tables. They use fresh herbs from the fertile Mekong region of Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, and the dry spice mixes from the Peninsula of Malaysia in creating authentic dishes. The food is also reasonable – £20 per head makes you full, including a bottle of Thai beer and 10% tip. You may have an image of South East Asian food is rather greasy than healthy, but their food betray such a negative image.

It is located near the renowned dance theatre Sadler’s Wells Theatre, and pre & post theater time is busy, so better go during the usual dinner time of around 7 – 10pm. Though not many other choices in compare to masses of Chinese restaurants, this is my favorite South East Asian restaurants in London.

Kau Chi Steamed Dumplings(海老&豚肉の手製蒸餃子。£4.50)、Nasi Goreng fried rice with char grilled pork(ナシゴレンと炭焼きポーク。チキンもあり。£9.85)、Mamak Kambing lamb curry(マレーシア風ラムカレー。£7.95)

Handmade Kau Chi prawn & pork steamed dumplings (£4.50), Nasi Goreng Jasmine fried rice with char grilled pork (£9.85. Also available with chicken), and Malaysian Mamak Kambing medium dry lamb curry (£7.95).

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