Lovers of Indian food had a reason to rejoice today with the return of Banana Leaf, the popular food truck that's been serving up authentic Indian cuisine in Hillcrest since 2011. The menu at Banana Leaf is a perfect example of a good food truck menu, with simple, quick-to-prepare dishes that are loaded with flavor and served up hot for not a lot of cash. Owner Poorni Muthaian and crew had been on hiatus since late May, and judging by the crowd of people waiting for lunch when I showed up today, they were greatly missed. In fact, by the time I arrived they had already run out of both their vegetarian and non-vegetarian lunch offerings and seemed pleasantly surprised that business was so good.
Lucky for me, they hadn't yet run out of Chicken 65, an extremely spicy marinated chicken dish that had me wiping sweat from my forehead and guzzling water. The flavor of this chicken is incredible, with the complex play of spice, salt, and just the vaguest hint of sweet working together to create something truly special. My favorite kind of spicy dishes are the ones that are capable of matching their heat with bold, assertive flavor, and the Chicken 65 does this well.
To temper the spice of my chicken, I also ordered an Egg Dhosa, a rice crisp stuffed with egg, onions, tomatoes and cilantro. This was my first experience with a dhosa, but it will definitely not be my last, with its light, chewy exterior and warm filling — it was like a happy marriage between an omelet and a crepe. Heartier eaters can order a potato-filled version, but since I'm an egg-lover, I thought this dish was perfection. I'm relatively inexperienced with Indian food, but my trip to Banana Leaf today made me realize that it's a cuisine with which I need to become better acquainted.
Like many of our local food trucks, Banana Leaf is active on Facebook and Twitter, so check them out for daily specials and announcements. Banana Leaf food truck is located at 201 N. Van Buren, and they are open from 11:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. The service is quick and friendly, even when there's a crowd of hungry folks all waiting to get their hands on some tasty food.