Banana Tree Canteen

If you are female there is a good chance that you have read the book, seen the movie or you are at least familiar with the philosophy of He’s Just Not That into You.  For male readers or those who have been living under a rock for the past few years the theory of He’s Just Not That Into You is to stop ignoring all the signs that tell you that a boy is not interested, accept that he is not and move on.  This is how I felt after my visit to Banana Tree Canteen in Islington.  I went there with a few friends who were big fans and regular diners there but I have to say that I just was not that into it.  

Ginger Chicken Stir Fry
I tried to like Banana Tree Canteen, I really did.  After all I liked the premise of the restaurant which is reasonably priced South East Asian food.  The place has a good look to it,  clean lines, bright spaces, communal wooden tables in the Wagama style.  They even bring you complimentary prawn crackers when you sit down with a spicy chilli sauce.  I love prawn crackers.  Sadly, though I can’t say that I loved Banana Tree Canteen.  
For a start the menu is far too ambitious.  It includes dishes from across South East Asia from pad thai to laska and everything in between with about 30 different choices.  It is overwhelming and makes me immediately suspicious that the chefs are going to struggle to execute such a variety of dishes well.  The spring rolls confirm my suspicions.  It can’t be that hard to deep fry some pastry and vegetables but the rolls are limp and pallid rather than golden and crunchy.  
Ginger chicken stir fry with star anise is served in a small metal dish with a side serving of rice.  The sauce on the chicken is thick and gluggy and overwhelming.  I think the sauce would be better suited to a beef stir fry.  Still, Julia and Emily both enjoy their pad thai which is a generous serving size and packed with chicken, prawns and bean shoots.  Sarah swears that if only I had ordered the laska I would have had a completely different view on Banana Tree Canteen.  There is no use being in denial though, Banana Tree Canteen, I am just not that into you.  
Details: 312 – 416 St John Street, Angel EC1V 4NJ (Ph 020 7278 7565) Tube: Angel
Damage: Budget.  
If you liked reading this and you have a craving for Asian food you might be interested in my post on the Vietnamese restaurant Cay Tre.  If you are in the Angel area another nearby budget option is Gallipoli which serves Turkish food.   

Banana Tree Canteen on Urbanspoon


  1. I agree 100%. 200% in fact. I forget if you’ve been to Sedap yet. Go there if you want some noodles. Much much better.

  2. You have to have the laksa, it is the only think I have ever ordered (and ever will due to feedback similar to yours from others). It is the closest thing to a sydney style laksa I have found in this town.

  3. Krista – 200% agreement – excellent. No haven’t been to Sedap I will have to try it out.

    Rolyatoj – My friend Sarah who I went with also recommended the laska. Perhaps Banana Tree Canteen trades off its laska alone…

  4. There is a place in Clapham Junction called the Banana Leaf which I dislike intensely. It must be somethign to do with putting the word Banana in the name.

    (Also quite amusing, the word verification I had to fill in below was “herpes”)

  5. Yes, Banana Tree was pretty lame when I tried it en route to Sadlers Wells (though the curry laksa was the best of the otherwise-mediocre bunch).

    For a quick bite before movies at the Vue, I like the Regent pizza pub or even Sa Sa Sushi (which is almost next door to Banana Tree).

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