Holy Basil 2 Cover

Holy Basil Redux n = 2

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.

Holy Basil Kitchen
I only had a few hours to snap this picture :O

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.

Holy Basil Statue
Finally seated! Not sure how this picture relates but whatever.

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!

PAD THAI (chicken) - Stir fried rice noodles with bean sprouts, egg, garlic chives, Spanish onion and crushed peanuts holy basil
PAD THAI (chicken) – Stir fried rice noodles with bean sprouts, egg, garlic chives, Spanish onion and crushed peanuts: $12.9

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.

PAD NAM MUN HOI (beef) - Stir fry of seasonal vegetables consisting of broccoli, carrot, onion, pumpkin and mushroom in oyster sauce holy basil
PAD NAM MUN HOI (beef) – Stir fry of seasonal vegetables consisting of broccoli, carrot, onion, pumpkin and mushroom in oyster sauce: $12.9

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.

LARB (beef) - A warm cooked salad of ground minced meat tossed with lime juice, red onion, roasted rice and roasted chilli flakes, topped with mint leaves, shallots and coriander holy basil
LARB (beef) – A warm cooked salad of ground minced meat tossed with lime juice, red onion, roasted rice and roasted chilli flakes, topped with mint leaves, shallots and coriander: $12.9

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

:(

GANG PED YANG - lychees, pineapple, cherry tomato, sweet basil, fresh chillies, green bananas and kaffir lime leaves cooked with cuts of roast duck holy basil
GANG PED YANG – Often served during traditional family feasting, this specialty dish has an abundant of flavours from lychees, pineapple, cherry tomato, sweet basil, fresh chillies, green bananas and kaffir lime leaves cooked with cuts of roast duck: $17.9

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.

Holy basil fried ice cream
The infamous fried ice cream again! $13.9

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.

Holy basil fried ice cream
Call it what you will, but there’s no other fried ice cream like it

Tell me you’re not salivating right now.

As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three

:D

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

7.5/10 Caesars

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13 thoughts on “Holy Basil Redux n = 2”

    1. Thanks Vivian! And wow! You ought to treat your stomach to it for sure.

      Try to come in either a large group and make a booking, or simply drop in for a weekday lunch/weeknight (non-Friday) dinner. The queues should be more manageable then, but don’t count on it.

    1. That’s the biggest issue with hype really – the product itself might objectively still be very good, but because everyone says “OMG” by the time you taste it, you feel that it could be even better.

      Ah, the psychology of the mind.

      But in the end, until someone does a /better/ fried ice cream than HB, it remains my fave :D

  1. I haven’t been to Holy Basil in a couple years. I live nearby the Canley Hieghts location and it’s always too busy with lines curling around the corner. I didn’t mind the pad thai – I thought it had all the right flavours. The pineapple fried rice was good too. But of course the stand out dish was the deep fried ice cream. Oh yeah….

    1. I haven’t been to the Canley location, but it doesn’t surprise me that there’s also huge queues there. I guess a restaurant that popular doesn’t need to worry itself with bookings.

      I really like the fried rice as well; it’s something I usually get though parents were sceptical. But in the end, always comes back to that ice cream…mannn

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