The Back Bay gem doesn't play when it comes to eclectic taste and bold cuisine.
“Banyan doesn’t play. The dark, mysterious quality of the restaurant is enchanting. The warm smiles of the employees inches the heat of the room up by a few degrees. And the high-placed booths topped with wooden tables can hardly disguise the air of elegant dining.”
Banyan is a modern, Pan-Asian gastropub that features eclectic menu options such as the Miso Mac n’ Cheese, made from miso cheese sauce, ramen noodles, and toasted panko, all drizzled atop with scallions. The desserts are even more unique. The Pineapple Brulee features a real, half-cut pineapple with hardened, caramelized sugar, mini fried dough glistening in sugar sauce, and a hearty dollop of whipped cream.
The restaurant, located in the ever-elegant Back Bay, is but a few minutes away from the Orange Line. It is a popular destination. Why, on the very night I dined, the Massachusetts Attorney General was sitting just a few tables away.
I started with the Lychee and Lemongrass Soda, an opaque white drink gracefully situated in a tall glass. The lychee is faint, and the lemongrass is best hinted through the aroma, but nonetheless, it is a refreshing soda that is perfect to sip while perusing the menu.
I chose the Veggie Fried Rice as my entree, priced at $16, and filled with carrots, onions, mushrooms, edamame, and drenched in smoked tofu dressing. And I do mean drenched. The carrots and onions were cooked delicately, but the mushrooms and smoked tofu dressing were overpowering, hindering the enjoyment of the rice. The bowl the dish was served in was about five inches in diameter. One has to eat the dish in its entirety regardless of the taste, because the price demands it.
The real stunner was the BFC Baos, featuring banyan fried chicken, iceberg lettuce, dukes mayo and hot sauce. The dish may be priced at $16 ($8 alone for one tiny little bao), but the scent alone makes your mouth water. The spice from the hot sauce that the fried chicken is covered in, accompanied with the airy feel of the steamed bao in your mouth, is delicious. The chicken, crispy and breaded perfectly on the outside and tender on the inside, is outstanding. The lettuce, covered in the mayo, adds an even more sophisticated taste to the excellent dish. I took one bite and immediately ordered another plate.
But the true delight of the night was, of course, the Pineapple Brulee. A real, sliced pineapple with bite-sized pineapple slices rests under the carmelized shell of delicately crispy sugar. Five mini doughnuts rest around the pineapple, drenched in lightly sweetened sugar sauce. And a delicate amount of whipped cream accompanies the entire dish. The cracks of the sugar shell giving away as the spoon cuts through is tremendously satisfying. The pineapple slices, sugar shell, doughnut, and whipped cream combination is mind-numbingly exquisite. It is a heavenly dish that exhibits the unique creativity of the menu.
And that is the true spirit of Banyan: creative food. The menu is not your comfortable “pick and choose” selection. No, it dares individuals to expand their palette in every horizon, from appetizers to desserts. One can hardly expect the Massachusetts Attorney General to not dine there. The entire bill was a whopping $92 (I went with two other people), but it was a sauve fare that was worth every penny (excluding the fried rice). It is a night that your taste buds are sure to revel in.