Holy Basil Restaurant, Canley Heights - Sydney
Holy Basil's reputation precedes my experience eating there, and so when Lin organised a lunch meet up for the six of us at a group meal, I was looking forward to try the place out. Holy Basil has two outlets, one in Sydney CBD at the Shark Hotel along the upper end of Liverpool Street (not the Spanish quarter nearer Darling Harbour), and the original place in Canley Heights, in the western suburbs of the greater Sydney region. We arrived early at the Canley Heights restaurant, run by the Inthavong family, on a persistently rainy day, was prepared for the no bookings scenario and were generally delighted with the taste and quality of the dishes served. Above, Thai inspired tom yum soup, spicy, aromatic and with a thicker soup than other versions. I loved the mushrooms and herbal essence. Below, the stir fried mussels on the shell are provided with a plethora of herbs like chili jams, basil and fresh chili cuts.
Deep fried starters, like marinated wings (Peak Kai Tod), are always a winner (image below), especially when accompanied by different sauces. The fellow lunchers that day were a mixture of family, twenty somethings, regulars and repeat visitors. There is a wholesome range at the bar, particularly with labels such as Singha, Peroni and Heineken beers; Peter Lehmann and Yalumba wines from South Australia; and Sauvignon Blanc from the Nautilus Estate Marlborough in New Zealand.
The Som Tam (papaya salad ala Thai) above contrasts with the entree of
the Yum Pla Muk (calamari salad) below, served with garnishings of Spanish onion slices and a twist of fresh lemon. These two dishes make Holy Basil very much infused with Thai cuisine in its menu, but the trick is also to savour the Laotian offerings.
The range of desserts is limited but we enjoyed the sticky coconut black rice pudding
(pictured above), that came with durians (below) and strawberries.
The motto of Holy Basil is "Eat. Drink. Laugh". We certainly did that - and also chatted much. My impressions of the Holy Basil Restaurant in Canley Heights are:
Atmosphere: Suburban but also yuppie..
Location: Busy, buzzing and lively.
Taste: Above expectations.
People Engagement: Friendly.
Service: Responsive, although the table was a tad small for a group of six. Dishes came out rather fast but that is good.
Best Time to Visit: An hour before everybody expects to turn up for dinner or lunch.
Fav Dish Experienced: Tom Yum.
Would I Return?: Definitely yes.
John suggested the Pad Kee Mao ( with flat rice noodles and a spicy kick) and it was an eye opener. Dishes I have an eye for in the future at Holy Basil are the Thai fried rice with crab meat (Khao Pad Pu); the soft shell crab; the Pla Sam Rod (deep fried fish of your choice with three different sauces, a real test of any Thai restaurant); Lao grilled pork sausages; and the unusual chicken feet salad. The brave can brace for the Lu Oi Bo, an ox tongue special.
The final picture above was not taken at Holy Basil. We decided to look for Vietnamese brew and took seats at the Canley Heights Corner Cafe, where we also has ice cream servings of vanilla, guava and durian flavours, with a milkshake based on another tropical fruit.