Friday, 7 September 2012

Holy Basil, Sydney CBD

Holy Basil is located in the Shark Hotel, just a couple of minutes' walk down Liverpool Street from Downing Centre. At the entrance was a giant statute and a screen saying Holy Basil, but the combination of the neon Shark Hotel sign and dim lighting rendered me confused and utterly deterred from venturing there alone - which was just as well, as their portions are quite sizable.

Since then, I've been there twice - once for lunch and once for dinner. To find Holy Basil within the hotel, venture up the stairs of the entrance. It's situated just past the bar and lounge area and fairly hard to miss due to the prominent decor.

Lunch was my first visit, upon which I realised that it's best to share whatever you order. I got a bowl of steamed jasmine rice and a beef Gang Dang/ red curry, both of which can be seen to be pretty big (relative to the spoons).

The red curry, as expected from eating Thai in Sydney, was sweet and very rich from the coconut milk (lemak, as Malaysians would describe it). Spiciness (or lack of) is not a problem, as you can select 1 of 3 levels of spiciness. The beef was tough and dry, and the vegetables weren't the best (the green beans felt and tasted old). However, one can't complain too much given the price and size of the meal.

Steamed jasmine rice ($3) & Beef red curry ($12.90)
The lunchtime crowd wasn't too bad and it was easy to get a table.

Friday Dinner, on the other hand, is a bit of a gamble if you want to show up without having made a booking beforehand. Some childhood friends and I decided to use it as the location for one of our catch-ups, and one of them thankfully had the foresight to recommend booking a table, as the restaurant turned out to be very full.

It's not a good place to have a discussion, as you're surrounded by chatter from the other tables. If you've been to a busy Chinese restaurant before, think worse. Sitting at a table for 4, we ended up shouting and still had a hard time understanding each other.

We started off with a Thai papaya salad. It was fresh but contained too many bean sprouts for my liking and came off as a bit tasteless.

Som tam salad ($10.90)
Our mains were then delivered. We had glutinous (sticky) rice that came bundled up in a woven basket to eat with our red roast duck curry (gang ped yang) and seafood oyster sauce stir fry (pad nam mun hoi), which came with broccoli, carrot and mushrooms. We also ordered a beef pad thai that tasted like ketchup was used for sauce.

Glutinous rice ($3)

Gang ped yang ($17.90)

Pad nam mun hoi ($16.90)
Beef pad thai ($12.90)
We finished off with the fried ice-cream, which is by far the one thing that distinguishes Holy Basil from all the other Thai/ Laotian restaurants out there. Its novelty not only comes from it being FRIED ICE-CREAM, but from the pastry they use to package the ice-cream with. The pastry is flaky, crispy and light. Paired with the sauce, it tasted like caramel popcorn. Each parcel is quite big, so a lot of tables split them between 2 people.

Fried ice-cream ($13.90)
Moral of the story: eat the fried ice-cream if you eat nothing else there.

Holy Basil on Urbanspoon

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