WANT to spice up your next lunch break with a cultural experience? Bangsar, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur, is home to dozens of Indian eateries, making it a banana leaf rice paradise. And in the midst of all this, a relatively new establishment known as Rickshaw has established itself as one of the best. This self-proclaimed boutique banana leaf restaurant celebrates the culinary traditions of the four states of South India: Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. It offers authentic banana leaf dishes made with fresh ingredients, rich flavors and large portions to satisfy your banana leaf cravings. Launched in 2020, Ricksha décor draws inspiration from India’s street scenes, with themed illustrations painted on its walls and a colorful, unmissable rickshaw hanging over the street below ground floor spaces.
“I started it [restaurant] during the pandemic,” explained the owner of Rickshaw, who wished to be called Raj. Raj, who is into cooking, admitted that he always wanted to open a banana leaf restaurant as it was his favorite food.
“I have eaten at several banana leaf restaurants and there is always something that can be improved or made better in every place,” he said.
“As a result, I took the initiative to provide Rickshaw with everything that provides real cuisine that would make banana leaf rice delicious.”
When asked what makes Ricksha different from other banana leaf restaurants, he replied that the dishes are prepared on site after ordering to keep them warm and crispy, and of course none of the dishes use MSG.
“This is not your usual banana leaf restaurant, we don’t serve cabbage, cucumbers or bean sprouts. [Those are] overrated.”
Their banana leaf set includes two varieties of rice (white or parboiled), as well as four different types of vegetables, one fried vegetable and one curry of your choice. Curries come in a variety of flavors including chicken, lamb, fish, crab, salted fish, and shrimp.
Homemade garlic pickle, papadam, mur mozhega and thayal are served together. They also offer sambar, vendhyam, tanni saara and rasam for vegetarians.
“Our seafood and meat dishes are our bestsellers,” Raj remarked. All their seafood is caught fresh in Kuala Selangor, which explains why their shrimp biryani is so popular, as well as being fresh, thick and juicy. Not to mention, their strong Brew coffee, freshly brewed from the coffee machine, is the perfect accompaniment to your banana leaf rice dish. Nice on the tongue and not too sweet – just right!
Weekend specials include Chetinad Hot Plate Mutton Masala, Nalli Ezhumbu Chukka/Perattal, Nall Ezhumbu Briyani (lamb) and Ernakulam Mixed Seafood Hot Plate. Rickshaw also offers vegan side dishes, including vegan bryani (mushrooms), vegan chicken perattal, fish tokka, 65 mushrooms, mushroom masala, and plant-based chicken in three variations. At Ricksha, customers can also pre-order popular side dishes including crab, lobster and fish head.
The food was served quickly, efficiently, cleanly and most importantly, rich in taste. According to Raj, the Rickshaw doesn’t take orders for the weekend because he values his customers. However, you can make reservations on weekdays.
He mentioned his desire to open a new branch, but is being cautious for now as he wants to maintain the quality of the food.
“That’s definitely my long-term goal… so I’m being careful.”
The rickshaw has perfected all the basic elements. This is probably one of the best banana leaf rice I have had in a long time.
To learn more about Ricksha, visit their social media pages @ricksha.bangsar (Instagram) and @rickshabangsar (TikTok).
Address: 9A (ground floor), Jalan Telawi 5, Bangsar, 59100, Wilayah Perseketuan, Kuala Lumpur.
Watch: 11:00 to 21:30, Tuesday to Sunday (including public holidays)
Telephone: 03-2202 0770, 03-2202 2580
Mobile: 018-2181 420
Note: Go upstairs to find the Rickshaw who is on the ground floor. All prices are inclusive of 6% SST and 10% service charge.