After a few days in Kuala Lumpur we took a coach to Penang.
We’d booked a hotel on the edge of the part of George Town which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A short walk away was the New World Park (Jalan Burma), home to a food court and a number of restaurants including Passions of Kerala, which specialises in banana leaf cuisine.
As you might be beginning to suspect from the photo, a banana leaf meal is served on a banana leaf and is an Indian meal consisting of rice and an assortment of curries. You might have encountered a thali in the UK (such as those served at the brilliant Thali CafÃ© branches in Bristol), and the experience is similar.
We both chose tomato rice as opposed to plain, and it came with the 4 vegetable curries/relishes you can see on the leaf along with the 3 curries you can see in the white bowls (mostly gravy as opposed to meat). The vegetable curries were excellent; fresh and very different to those you encounter in a standard Indian restaurant in the UK. In particular we both loved the tomato and gourd curry you can see second left on the leaf. Its sweet spiciness was a real delight.
Not realising how much was included in the set meal, we had also ordered a mutton curry and two pieces of fried fish. Both of these were wonderful too; the fish was beautifully crisp on the outside and moist within, and the mutton masala full of chunks of tender meat in a rich sauce.
The price was ludicrously small considering the amount and quality of the food. In the interest of full disclosure we had eaten another banana leaf meal a few days previously at a Brickfields restaurant in KL, and while it was pleasant, it was distant second compared to our experience here.