For an earlier post (which has coverage on different dishes) on Holy Basil, click here.
Wow, it’s been far too long, HB, it’s been far, far too long. In the quest for variety by eating at new places each time, one inevitably will start to miss some old favourites. Fortunately, my parents, traditionally people who’ve always advocated eating at home (and I mean that – they won’t have a dinner out for months at a time), have begun to take a fancy to dining out. Why the change? I’ve no idea, but I suspect it’s got something to do with the fact that they want to try food that they can’t cook at home.
Bravo, I’ll support that to the grave.
I haven’t had Thai in a few weeks, which, as my second most-favourite cuisine (after Japanese), is just far too long. It’s also ideal for my parents, as mum had heard about the fried ice cream from her friends – what more reason do you need?
Date Last Visited: 21/6/13
Address: Shark Hotel 127 Liverpool St Sydney, NSW 2000
Recommended Dish(es): can’t get away from that ice cream…
First impressions for my parents weren’t very good – we waited a good 60-70 minutes to get our seat, though this is hardly surprising to me – a walk in on a Friday night to Holy Basil? Yeah you gotta be kidding me. Unfortunately, unless you’re a largish group, you can’t make a booking (someone tell me that this policy’s changed?), so walk in is your best bet.
Well, at least it gave me plenty of time to take a shot of the open kitchen! These guys will never get a break on a Friday night – that’s for sure.
I’m surprised that my mum was able to wait this long without losing her patience, but in the end, we finally got seated (at like…8pm or so after arriving at aroun 15 to 7pm). The silver lining? We were FAMISHED. Bring on the food!
When introducing Thai cuisine to someone, nothing is quite as suitable as a quintessential as Pad Thai. As such, it was a must-order, especially for keen parents.
Now, I’m not going to split two ways about this – HB’s Pad Thai is average, as the noodles are generally a little clumpy and the dish a bit lacking on flavour.
Spice I Am & Atom Thai produce better Pad Thai dishes by far. I had kind of hoped that HB’s Pad Thai would have improved since I last visited so long ago, but it seems like it’s more of the same. Oh well, it’s no matter, because there’s so much other good stuff to try.
Another staple dish I almost always order on a trip to a Thai restaurant is a stir fry of some sort. As I’ve been accustomed to getting chicken/fish before, I decided to go with beef this time.
Mum noted that the dish wasn’t quite hot, and rather was somewhere above tepid. I noticed this myself, but didn’t really see it an issue, as the taste of the dish was still top notch. I’m a big fan of oyster sauce-based stir fries, it’ll get right to the heart of the matter. I could eat a whole plate of it myself, certainly helped by my bias towards broccoli.
I think I’ve said this in the post for Home Thai - I’m usually not a fan of salads, except Thai salads. They differ from Western salads in that they generally incorporate warm ingredients, good portions of meat, and usually pack a strong flavour base.
The Larb at HB is my kind of salad in all of these respects – lots of cooked beef mince, tangy flavour provided by the lime juice, and plenty of spiciness from the chilli. Unmistakably Thai.
My only niggle with this salad, which was not advertised on the menu description, was that it contained tripe. Most Asians like tripe, parents included, but unfortunately I never took a liking to it, and this somewhat marred the dish for me. Oh well, more effort trying to fish out the tripe (which was cut up into small strips). Aww
Mmmmm, here we go – the real heavy-hitting stuff. Curry is the other staple I get at a Thai restaurant. There isn’t a curry quite like a Thai curry, and I felt the need to go for their most unique curry (plus, a hankering for duck helped).
Depending on how you like your textures, you may decide to eat the duck with or without the skin. It’s an interesting decision to make, actually. With peking duck, the decision is obvious – you’d be insane not to eat the skin. In a curry, it’s a different mater, as the skin is not crispy, but rather soggy. Whether that’s to your preference or not is up to you. For me, I left much of it aside.
Skin removed, the duck meat submerged in the curry is absolutely divine. There’s a wealth of ingredients in there that make the curry taste like it is – I imagine the flavour would not be easy to imitate. Special dish indeed, one of the rare dishes that would make me break my usual rice abstinence (bar sushi) by the bucket-load.
A visit to HB is not complete without their fried ice cream.
No matter how you say it, no matter whether you like it or not, there is no other place in Sydney that makes a fried ice cream in the style of HB. I’m glad I love it – so much flavour, sweetness, and that pastry will just dissolve in your mouth along with the rest of the creaminess.
Tell me you’re not salivating right now.
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three
Awesome: still like I remember it, fried ice cream a winner as always
Not so Awesome: tripe in salad (didn’t mention this), pad thai still not that good