#187 - Banana Island, Oklahoma City OK

Over the past 3 years I've racked up restaurant.com certificates. My mom found great deals on Groupon that gave us $400 worth of certificates for $40, and then $200 for $20. And even when you purchase them directly through restaurant.com, you can get a $10 certificate for $4. It's really a pretty great program. You basically get 50% off your meal when you spend a certain amount of money, and some deals require you to spend as little as $10. 

A couple weeks ago my mom and 2 of her sisters were visiting. We were in OKC running errands, so when it was time to eat I went on the hunt. I had seen a restaurant.com certificate for Banana Island, but the smallest amount they offer is $25 off of a $50 bill. Since I'm never going to eat that much by myself I've always had to pass. But with 4 of us, I knew we could do it.

I always immediately ask the staff if they will accept the coupon. As long as they are part of the program they're supposed to, but I've heard of some restaurants refusing. That's horrible. Nobody's forcing you to be in the program, so if you want out, then get out. Don't stay in and then refuse to accept the coupon. Thankfully I've never had that happen. A couple months ago I ran into a situation at a small, family owned restaurant that would only take a paper printout of the certificate, not the one on my phone. But that's the only negative experience I've had.

I sort of recognized the address, and as we pulled up I realized why. It's right next door to my favorite Asian grocery store in the Asian district in OKC. There's actually several small shops and restaurants next door, and I had never even noticed them. 

You know how they always talk about curb appeal? Well, there's really none with Banana Island. We entered via the walkway attached to the store. It's pretty dark, and not very welcoming at all. My mom's first comment was "I hope the food is better than the entrance". We later realized that there's another entrance from the street. 

We started with the fresh veggie rolls

These were huge rolls, absolutely stuffed with raw carrots, cabbage and lettuce. I've never seen anything like it. They pretty much fell apart with every bite. But they were extremely light and very refreshing. Both of the sauces were delicious, I just wish they gave you more. The peanut sauce was rich, but not too heavy. My mom thought it wasn't really peanuty, but I really liked it. I'm pretty sure the sweet chili sauce is the stuff you can buy next door at the grocery store. But I love sweet chili sauce, so no complaints here. My aunt June can't eat a lot of raw veggies so I ate most of hers as well.

My mom got the tom yum fried rice with shrimp

Fried Rice, Thai spices, lemon grass, onion, red & green bell peppers, mushroom, lime juice & chili paste
I tried a bite and it was excellent. We were really impressed with the size and number of shrimp. Normally in a dish you get a few little ones, but these were huge. 

Terry got the mango stir fry with beef

Sliced mango, green & red peppers in house sweet & sour sauce
This dish was really good. I've never thought of adding mango to stir fry, but it adds a wonderful sweetness. 

June got the Malaysian ribs

I was impressed with both the quantity and the meatiness of the ribs. They had a dry rub that was very good, and they were cooked perfectly. We were a little surprised that these didn't come with any side, since it's an entree, not an appetizer. We had a language barrier issue getting to the bottom of it, but June ended up getting a side of white rice to go with it.

I went with the spicy basil noodles with flat noodles & beef. The server said it wouldn't be too spicy, so I went with medium

Flat or thin rice noodles stir-fried with vegetable, egg, basil, chili, soy sauce, and spices
Their idea of medium and my idea of medium are clearly way different, as my mouth was on fire after one bite. But the dish itself was awesome. The beef was tender and very flavorful. The green beans were cooked tender crisp, just the way I like them. I love flat noodles. I've never cooked with them, but I need to change that.

Speaking of green beans, my mom ordered a dish of them as well

These were good, but a little too salty. I really didn't eat much of them because I had beans in my dish.

When my mom started eating I asked how the food was, and she said it was very good. See, that's why you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover.

The only negative is that the food doesn't all come at once. I'm guessing they only have 1 or 2 cooks back there, so they can only cook so much at a time. I got my dish first, and was worried it would be a long wait for the rest. But we all had our dishes within just a couple minutes of each other. We did run into a language barrier with our server. He speaks very little English, and it was severely broken. So we had to do a lot of pointing. But it all worked out and we got exactly what we ordered. I read a few reviews that said people waited for over an hour for their food. That's crazy to me, and that most definitely deserves a vocal complaint. Our dishes came just minutes after we finished the appetizer, so we didn't have any issues like that.

Two women came in and sat down while we were there. I can't remember what the first woman ordered, but as soon as the server delivered the plate she started complaining. It didn't have enough color. It didn't have enough flavor. They usually add more seasoning. There must be a different cook. And on, and on, and on. And then she didn't believe the server when she said they didn't have miso soup. She spelled miso, like that was going to change things. And even when the server brought out the menu to show her that they didn't have miso soup, she still didn't believe her. Not only was she really loud, she was taking the server away from the other customers. I did finally hear her say that the dish itself was really good, but immediately followed it with "but" and a slew of complaints. She must live a seriously miserable existence. The woman with her never really said anything, so she was either mortified, or knows that's how she normally is. I wanted to go and punch the woman in the head. 

Will I go back? Yes I will, because the food was delicious and we had a good overall experience. And hopefully that woman will be nowhere in sight.