Thursday, 29 March 2012

Restaurant Review: Holy Basil, China Town

Fish cakes

Fellow blogger Phouc was teasing my taste buds a while ago with pictures of Lao sausages on Twitter. When the team from Holy Basil in Canley Vale opened a restaurant in the city late last year I was quick to add it onto my wish list for 2012.

Why did Lao food catch my eye? Over the past few decades there has been a high level of migration from the Isan province in Thailand to the capital Bangkok. The migrants bought their favourite food with them and now Isan food is a big influence behind Bangkok street food.

The Isan province shares a large border with Laos and I understand there is a quite a lot of crossover between the two. I was keen to see how Lao food compared with the Bangkok street food that I love.

Tenuous? Yes. Culturally insensitive generalisation? Hopefully not.

Green chicken curry

We started off with some Fish cakes ($8.90) which came served under a mound of salad. The fish cakes tasted pretty good and a lot like the ones I ate the Tha Chang Pier in Bangkok on my first visit.

Dinner with Mary always involves a green chicken curry ($12.90). Moderate on the heat scale the curry had a good depth of flavour. The curry had large pieces of galangal and lemongrass in it. I think they were trying to highlight that the curry paste was homemade. However, I found it unnecessarily annoying. You thought you'd scored a piece of chicken and it turned out to be woody galangal.

Lao sausages

After my tweets with Phouc the Lao sausages ($10.90) were a must. They didn't contain any glutinous rice as I was expecting from the Bangkok street stalls. The lightly spiced sausages were tender on the inside and had well grilled skins for a change in texture. They were the favourite dish of the evening.

 Laab ped / duck salad

Along with the mighty som dtum, laab ped ($14.90) is my favourite street stall dish. The laab was fresh with a little bit of zing, but I prefer Chat Thai's version or the one from the stall opposite my old flat in Bangkok.

It was my first visit to the Shark Hotel and it is a much less salubriuos venue than I was expecting. The food was all good and certainly seems to be a hit with Asian dinners. In fact I think I might have been the only whitey in the place. It wasn't the Bangkok street food of my dreams. But it's a Lao restaurant, so I probably should not have expected it to be.

Holy Basil
Shark Hotel 
127 Liverpool St,
Holy Basil on Urbanspoon


  1. Sounds like a decent option for a casual meal... no fried ice cream?

  2. u finally went !!!!


  3. I was stuffed after all that food and completely forgot about the fried ice cream.

    An excuse to return!

  4. Phew, I was worried for a short time that you missed off laab!

  5. The only gwei lo? How unusual! And no fried ice cream? Tsk tsk. LOL. I like the Lao sausages too, so tender and tasty. :-)

  6. You should return and have a hit of the infamous fried ice cream :)


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