I used to have Shami Banana Leaf's nasi briyani at Northpoint in Yishun for lunch 3 or 4 times a week, no kidding.
Food courts are a big part of Singapore food culture. They are very popular because they are conveniently located (usually in shopping centres) and air conditioned, which is important in Singapore's tropical humidity and equatorial heat. Food courts are clean and have many food choices for customers.
They are like hawker centres with air condition, except that food courts are usually corporate run and the "stall holders" are employees. The food tended to be factory made, central kitchen prepared but finished and served at the point of sale i.e. the food court stall. Taste is thus generally uniform and generic.
Fortunately, there are still some food courts that still have owner operated stalls, such as Shami Banana Leaf at the Kopitiam in Northpoint beside Yishun MRT station.
There were 30-45 minute queues when I was regularly lunching here, some years back.
After a long time away, I had my usual today - large heap of white basmati rice splashed with curry. For sides, I always have a chicken leg cooked in masala, long beans cooked in curry and stir fried taugeh (bean sprouts). The food is served with a crispy papadum.
A lot of food. It's a satisfying and filling meal. This costs SGD9.50. Price has gone up more than 50% compared to when I first ate at Shami's almost a decade ago 😂
(The signboard says Shami Banana Leaf, and yes, the meal is packed in a banana leaf for takeaway. But, if you eat your meal in the food court, it will be served on a plastic "banana leaf" plate... alamak 😂 )
The long grain basmati rice is light, loose, fluffy, tender and still have a slight nuttiness. It is not starchy. The rice soaks up the curry and goes with the spicy masala marvellously.
For me, the best part about Shami Banana Leaf is their masala chicken, and I like the leg most. I always ask the staff for more masala and she always scoops in a large fiery looking dollop for me 😃
The intimidating looking masala is a complex blend of savoury spiciness with a friendly and mild lingering sting. I also enjoy it when I bite into tiny bits of aromatic star anise, clove or cardamon in the masala. It's like gentle perfume in the mouth.
I like it that Shami's masala chicken is always done just right. It's never overcooked, so it is tender and juicy with subtle natural chicken taste.
The vegetables - I always go for their long beans and taugeh. They are fresh, and done with a light touch so that we can still taste their natural crunch and flavours together with the mild spices. The vegetables were done a little too wet today.
👉 Much of Northpoint shopping centre in Yishun Singapore has changed - many parts beyond recognition. I am glad that Shami Banana Leaf is still here. Their nasi briyani had been my lunch for, it must have been over a hundred times and today, I can still have a satisfying and delicious meal here (even though prices have gone up quite a
Restaurant name: Shami Banana Leaf
Address: Stall inside Kopitiam food court in Northpoint, Yishun Central, Singapore (basement level directly at the underpass entrance leading to Yishun MRT station)
GPS: 1°25'47.1"N 103°50'08.3"E | 1.429744, 103.835634
Hours: 10:00am to 9:00pm
No pork, no lard, no Halal cert
Date: 19 Feb 2017