Pineapple Fried Rice at Banana Island in Oklahoma City

Banana Island: Malaysian food for Oklahoma City

by | April 8, 2011 | 21 Comments


Banana Island

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1117 NW 25th St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73106

Exterior of Banana Island in Oklahoma City

Please note: since this review was published, Banana Island has changed locations. Therefore, there may be some information in this review or in the comments that no longer applies.

I am not really sure what I expected from Banana Island upon my first visit. I guess I had it in my mind that it was Caribbean food, though I have no idea how I came to that perception. But I discovered that Banana Island is actually a Malaysian and Thai food restaurant. It isn’t much on the eyes from the outside (or the inside, really), but it is worth a stop for some unique food that is presented in such a beautiful display I didn’t want to eat it.

Seven of us ventured to Banana Island, all for the first time, on a recent Friday night, and were not very surprised to see the place mostly empty. Oddly, as the evening went on, the restaurant got more full (say around 9:30 p.m. or so), so maybe this is a place better for a late dinner. It is, in fact, one of the few Oklahoma City restaurants with late night hours (till midnight most days and 1am on Fridays and Saturdays). Regardless, we were seated quickly and we ordered Asian beers all around. Note: Banana Island is beer and wine only, so don’t go expecting any tropical alcoholic drinks (though they did have several smoothies on the menu).

I, like many people, have a fear of looking like a stupid American in authentic ethnic restaurants. I think this fear keeps many of us from branching out and trying new places, which is a shame. So, let me just say that, despite a heavy language barrier, the waitresses at Banana Island were very patient and helpful, and we all got our food ordered with no problem. If I can do it, you can too, so don’t let your fear of language barriers keep you from trying some of the flavorful, authentic restaurants around town.

Our table started out with the Indian pancake with beef ($4.75) appetizers and plates of satay chicken ($5.95). The consensus was that the chicken was a little dry, but that the beef pancakes were fantastic — perfectly crisp on the outside and cut into little triangles for easy sharing. This was a unique dish I had never had before and would definitely have again.

We were all also automatically served a cup of soup, similar to miso soup you find at many Asian restaurants. It had a nice flavor and was a good size in that it didn’t fill me up before my meal.

There were six different main dishes ordered at our table, and only one was not enjoyed. I had the Pineapple Fried Rice ($7.95 – see a pic) which was served beautifully in a hollowed out pineapple. There was plenty of meat and shrimp and enough food for two meals. My husband similarly went with the Mango Chicken ($12.95 – see a pic) and his food was served in a hollowed out mango. The presentation was spectacular. Not many restaurants put much thought into how the food looks on the plate, and I can appreciate that Banana Island obviously cares about taste and image.

The chicken fried rice ($5.95 – see a pic) was tasty, though was just served as a mound of rice. No hollowed out chickens here. Like mine, another friend’s Pineapple Jumbo Shrimp ($16.95 – see a pic) came with the presentation and had good flavor.

The lone disappointment in the meal was the Stir-Fried Flat Noodles, which were greasy, not all that flavorful, and had no presentation to save the dish. But overall, the table seemed happy with the food and everyone was already talking about what they would try next time. The menu is very extensive, and it looks to be a little cheaper at lunch if you want to try it out on a whim.

We wrapped up the meal with a dessert soup that was brought out without us ordering it. I love food that is just part of the experience and comes without asking, though the flavors in this example were a little hard to place. It tasted like a blueberry tapioca pudding soup that was slightly sweet and had an interesting texture. I am always up for trying new things, but it was not my personal favorite, while others at the table ate every drop. To each their own.

I think the exterior and interior at Banana Island are lacking in appeal, which likely hinders the crowd levels even on Friday nights. But, the food is unique, flavorful and beautifully presented with care. The waitresses are attentive and polite and don’t let the language barrier become an issue (even as we split up seven checks). I would easily return to Banana Island and hope you’ll take the time to try it as well. Have you been already? Let us know what you think in the comments.

See more pictures from Banana Island in our Facebook Photo album.

Banana Island Restaurant on Urbanspoon

More Photos from Banana Island

Exterior of Banana Island in Oklahoma CityCurry Beef Noodle Soup at Banana Island in Oklahoma CitySatay at Banana Island in Oklahoma CityPineapple Jumbo Shrimp at Banana Island in Oklahoma CityMango Chicken at Banana Island in Oklahoma CityPineapple Fried Rice at Banana Island in Oklahoma City

This article was posted by Jennifer Monies on Friday, April 8th, 2011. It is filed under:

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  • Cult of Nobody says:
    April 8th, 2011 at 8:21 am   

    Love the Curry Beef Noodle Stew at Banana Island!!!

    It’s my favorite Malaysian restaurant in OKC…. Ok, it’s the only Malaysian restaurant I know in OKC but it’s still my favorite.

  • RetroIsDead says:
    April 8th, 2011 at 1:21 pm   

    As a Malaysian who has been residing in OKC for the past 15 years, this is a divine for me. The food there is pretty authentic.They have the best satay chicken in my opinion. I also thought the peanut sauce was superb. Beef rendang is a must try. Over all, a great experience every time and will continue to eat there.

  • Tim says:
    April 8th, 2011 at 1:33 pm   

    We lunched there today on the strength of this review and were delighted. Catfish in curry was awesome, as was the spicy beef dish my companion had.

  • Tim says:
    April 8th, 2011 at 1:35 pm   

    Yes, will second Retro on the beef rendang (couldn’t remember the name).

  • Lin Archer says:
    April 8th, 2011 at 5:50 pm   

    We have enjoyed Banana Island several times since we have discovered it. The pineapple fried rice is really yummy. We have had several items on the menu and have been very satisfied. One dish I had (too bad I can’t remember which!) came with a very small bowl of what was a sort of sugar fried jalapeno – crispy, temp hot and a little spicy hot tempered by the sweetness – the peppers added a touch of really good to the stir-fried food. If I can figure out what I ate I will certainly order it again!

  • Cult of Nobody says:
    April 10th, 2011 at 11:14 am   

    I have tried the beef rendang and agree it is solid…. I’m addicted to that beef curry noodle stew though.

    Hard for me to try anything else when the very first thing I try in a restaurant is a home run.

  • Benjamin Soon says:
    April 10th, 2011 at 10:30 pm   

    Being a Malaysian student up in UCO, having Banana Island is such a blessing! It brings back such good memories of eating by the roadside back home!

    I do highly recommend the “char koay teow” with cockles! Its basically fried flat noodles but the cockles add in the extra “zing” so definitely get it with that!

  • KC says:
    April 23rd, 2011 at 2:16 pm   

    I have visited Banana Island multiple times and have mostly been pleased with the Beef Rendang and Roti Canai. I will definitely be back.

    On another note, I wasn’t too thrilled with the Pork w/ Tofu on the lunch menu – it was pretty good and all, but it felt like an underwhelming rendition of Ma Po Tofu. Feel free to try to form your own opinion, but I’d advise not to have high expectations for it.

  • Oclayhoma says:
    July 4th, 2011 at 11:44 am   

    I called them prior to driving there, the person who answered told me they had permanently closed.

  • Tim says:
    July 4th, 2011 at 1:06 pm   

    Oclayhoma – thanks for that heads up. I just saw a sign on the building today indicating Taj Indian Cuisine is coming soon. Taj used to be on NW Expressway and was pretty well-regarded. We shall see what the future holds for this location.

  • Myco says:
    October 31st, 2011 at 9:59 pm   

    Hey everyone the Bananan Island was moving to the new address ,(1117 NW 25th ST .okc.405-602-1188) ,they are reopening.let’s go there~~~

  • RetroIsDead says:
    November 1st, 2011 at 11:34 am   

    I went by the new Banana Island and all I can say is; this place is definitely better than the old one. It has that clean, and pleasant feel to it compared to the old place (YEAH better decorations too). The menu items has shrunk quick a bit and only the core dishes (like rendang, nasi lemak, prawn mee etc) remain which I think a better approach as far as cost effective concerned. I also realized the have reduced the prices as well. The food used to be $8.95 and now it is $8.00.

    It’s located right next to Mr. Pho by Super Cao Nguyen.

  • Mary a. says:
    March 3rd, 2012 at 5:36 pm   

    Love love love this place! Especially if Michael is our waiter. I had been wanting to try it for a long time and once they moved to cao nguyen I finally did and now I feel like I’ve been missing out for a long time. My favorites are the pancakes and satay for appetizers and TOFU CHILI for entree. But I’ve never gone wrong by asking michael what it is I can’t afford to miss. The spicy eggdrop soup that comes out is irresistable…and after writing this… I think I need to go to banana island for my next meal.

  • KC says:
    September 27th, 2012 at 10:57 pm   

    So, going back for the first time since they moved next to the Cao Nguyen and I was impressed. For a $7 lunch special I got a spicy tomato egg drop soup, fried won ton strips, crunchy sweet-and-sour-and-spicy flounder, a slice of fruit, and iced tea. Definitely going back for that smothered pork chop by buddy got and, for $7 bucks for all that yummy food, how can I go wrong?

  • emilykelleycollective says:
    February 1st, 2014 at 1:20 pm   

    […] A great place for Malaysian food. […]

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