Dining on a budget: Banana Bay in Rowland Heights

By Maritza Velazquez

In Rowland Heights, there’s no shortage of great Asian cuisine.

Banana Bay is no exception. This popular restaurant has a huge menu, with so many offerings that anybody with a liking for Thai flavors is sure to find something. For me, it was difficult enough choosing just one dish.

That’s the beauty of eating with others. An acquaintance and I shared three courses, with more than enough left over to take home. For an appetizer, we ordered the Hand Rolls ($5.95), which had a great mix of tofu, sausage, crab, cucumber and bean sprouts. Wrapped in raw egg roll skin, it was topped with a very sweet peanut-based sauce.

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Although I enjoyed the mixture inside of the Hand Rolls, especially the Chinese sausage, the sauce that smothered the two huge rolls didn’t do a lot for the dish. I think it would have been much better without their “special sauce.”

The soup came out next. The Seven Sea soup ($13.95), served in a boiling hot pot, is a treat for any seafood lover. It has scallops, shrimp, king crab legs, squid, mussels, tender white fish and baby clams, all in a very spicy broth with lemon grass and lime juice.

With chunks of dried chili, this one is not for those with sensitive taste buds.

For the entree, I ordered the Continental Fried Rice ($7.95), a simple dish with fried rice and fried chicken topped off with a fried egg and a sweet and sour dipping sauce. Although this tasted like the least authentic Thai dish of the three, the chicken was both tender and flavorful. And the sweet and sour sauce made the perfect compliment.

The total came out to about $32, but three could have easily enjoyed this meal. There are some great entrees, though, that run under $6, and some that reach $15. 

The service here varies, as you’ll find if you decide to take a trip to Rowland Heights. I’ve been here several times, and my recent venture was definitely the most pleasant.

Although the server made no attempt to say hello or make conversation as he took our drink orders, at least we didn’t have to wait 15 minutes before a server came at all (yes, that has happened here a few times before).

Despite this, the atmosphere is fun, and the dining room big enough to accommodate large parties.

Banana Bay is at 18230 Colima Road, Rowland Heights. For more information, call (626) 839-5511.

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