PJKITA > Sri Ganapathi Mess: Petaling Jaya’s Banana Leaf Paradise

Sri Ganapathi Mess: Petaling Jaya’s Banana Leaf Paradise

Banana leaf is hands down one of the most popular Indian food in the Klang Valley. Residents of Petaling Jaya will find that they have their very own banana leaf restaurant that is as unique as can be.

Text and photos by Debbie Chow.

In one of the many unassuming rows of houses in Petaling Jaya’s Old Town, lies a hidden banana leaf paradise. Located on Jalan 1/10, opposite SK (2) Petaling Jaya is Sri Ganapathi Mess, a repurposed bungalow that doesn’t quite look like a hot banana leaf spot from the outside. But don’t let its appearance that fool you.

Venture through the gates as early as 11.30am on a weekday, and you will find a lunch crowd already in line at the frying station. Working adults, parents waiting for their school going children, families and couples can be found waiting in line waiting for a seat at one of the many tables provided in the house.

The first sight that greets you upon entering Sri Ganapathi are shelves of colourful pottery and decorative items, that you can buy at reasonable prices, on your left. On your right, there is a frying station with freezers containing marinated squid, a variety of fish, and other items that can be freshly fried to order.

Enter the inner recess of the ‘house’ and you will find pre-cooked dishes such as fish cutlets, vegetable cutlets, tofu sambal, chicken curry, chicken varuval, vegetables, curried crabs and such as well as a soup station serving the soup of the day such as chicken soup. The waitstaff will usher you into one of the ‘rooms’ where there are tables to sit at. It’s almost as if you are having lunch at a friend’s home.

Place your order and within minutes, a waiter lays out a banana leaf before you, and another heaps parboiled rice on your leaf until you indicate that the amount is enough. Another waiter follows with at least four different types of accompaniments such as yogurt cucumber salad, cabbage, pickles, curried potato and papadom. You have a choice of soup of the day or rasam, an Indian tamarind-based soup. Let the waiter know if you would like accompanying meat dishes or fried dishes (the fried squid is highly recommended) in small, medium or large sharing plates.

Despite its low key set up and homely ambiance, Sri Ganapathi has received rave reviews from food bloggers in the past few years. Blogger of more than a decade, Sue Lynn, better known as Bangsar Babe said “If I had to choose one banana leaf rice meal that left a lasting impression, it would be the one at Sri Ganapathi Mess” in her unpaid review of this banana leaf restaurant. Coconuts KL describes the experience as “eating in different dining rooms in somebody’s house”.

Reviews on Trip Advisor praise the ‘homely’ ambiance of Sri Ganapathi, although some find the fare offered quite pricey. Nevertheless, the taste of Sri Ganapathi’s banana leaf is considered one of the best. According to customers who leave feedback on Sri Ganapathi’s Facebook page are Kok Sook Leng who thinks this eatery has “one of best banana leaf rice around” and R Susha Radhakrishnan who considers this “Superb Indian food, worth every cent!”

This true culinary gem in Petaling Jaya is one that, thanks to social media, attracts foodies from all over the Klang Valley. Note that Sri Ganapathi only serves banana leaf lunches and opens 11.30am to 4pm daily. It also provides catering services within Petaling Jaya and beyond.