Walking around Soho looking for a quick casual meal might stump you as there are so many choices of new restaurants with cuisine ranging from Indian wraps to Venetian Cichetti to Asian street food. A welcome new addition offering Indochinese Cuisine is opening on Wardour Street this week, Banana Tree Soho.
Banana Tree Soho is part of a a chain of Casual Dining Asian restaurants around London and this newest outpost in Soho has just opened on Wardour Street. This chain is run by William, an ex architect turned restauranter, and his lovely wife Anne. In the last 20 years, they have steadily turned this chain into a very popular Asian restaurant with high ratings on sites like Urbanspoon.
The new Banana Tree Soho has an industrial decor, with exposed ducting and bare brick walls, studded with a few Asian accents including the large Asian Hat shaped pendant lamps which were custom made for the space.
Seating is either on the raised communal benches or tables around the dining space. Noise reverberates off the hard surfaces, creating a vibrant buzz.
Banana Tree Soho’s Indochinese Menu
The menu of this branch differs from the other branches where they have incorporated more Indochinese dishes, basically giving them more of a leeway to add more flavours and dishes from around Indochina, South East Asia and surrounding countries. It was also a pleasant surprise to see that instead of simple one plate dishes, there are a lot of dishes you can order to share Asian family style.
At the pre opening trial run, we sampled a range of dishes from their new extensive menu. As we were quite a large group with a few kids in tow, we ordered dishes to share.
The achar or spicy pickled vegetables were quite superb and the belly pork was crispy with a hint of 5 spice. I would definitely order these pickles as a side dish and even take some home if they can bottle it.
For mains, we ordered a variety of dishes to share, family style. You can opt for individual one dish meals or just a noodle dish if you wanted a different option.
After 19 years, they have reintroduced Beef Rendang onto the menu after finding a method to perfect this dish. The rendang is cooked to their well tested recipe after vigorous testing the many ways to cook this dish, resulting in a consistent quality that does that inhibit the flavour. The meat was tender, spicing was balanced but a bit too light on the chilli for my taste.
This was deliciously soft melting pork belly, perfect with a bowl of rice and some of their chilli sauce that is on every table. The flavour was reminiscent of something my grandma would make at home.
My favourite dish, crispy fried fish with a spicy tamarind sauce, what’s not to like about this.
This dish was laden with seafood in a thick coconut curry, with a heavy curry leaf flavour.
We had a some papaya salad, stir fried greens and the grilled aubergine to accompany these dishes. For drinks, there is an array of freshly squeezed juices, a wide wine selection and an eclectic cocktail menu, don’t miss the Dirty Thai Guy cocktail.
In summary, you could have a lovely family style Asian meal or a quick bowl of Yin Yang Laksa or Fried Rice (Nasi Goreng). The flavours are authentic and have not been dumbed down too much and you will be ensured of a great meal at a really decent price. Starters start at about £3 and the mains are around £6, a full meal with drinks will work out less than £20, which for the West End is a real deal.