Banana Leaf is a chain of the ever-popular Thai restaurants that are spreading across China. Not exactly known for "authentic" Thai cuisine, they cash in on the fact that a bit of variety never hurt a city's food scene. People tend to have a love-hate relationship with Banana Leaf.
Perhaps the gaudy decor and Filipino pop bands are meant to deflect diners' attention away from their plates. It certainly doesn't look like any restaurant I went into in Thailand. People should be clued in, as anyone expecting actual Thai cuisine will be disappointed. Malaysian and Cantonese food with a bit of coconut milk or lime tossed in is more like what you'll get. A cynic may hypothesize that Banana Leaf is just catering to a Chinese palate that may find authentic Thai food too authentic. Although the formula offends many, it still works well enough to pull in the crowds.
The fried curry crab and curry beef brisket usually get good reviews, as do the spring rolls. And the often full house also helps ensure that ingredients are fresh. The beef salad, however, has a bad reputation, and a pad Thai which employs dried shrimp is a sin. Service can be hit or miss, as some servers are either poorly trained or flat out indifferent. If only they were as chirpy as the Filipino band playing.
In terms of eating, I'd give it a miss. But as an anthropological experience about shifts in culinary culture, foreign influence and cultural appropriation… well there's nothing else quite like it.
Location 1: 5/F, World Trade Center, 371-375 Huanshi East Rd
Location 2: 1F Broadcasting and Television Hotel, 8 Luhu Rd
Location 3: 2/F, Times Square, 28 Tianhe North Rd