Posts tagged Durian

Ho Jiak, Strathfield

Nasi Goreng with Musang King Durian (Special): Ho Jiak, Strathfield. Sydney Food Blog Review

There are just some times when a simple “yum” isn’t enough to describe just how awesome the food is, which is why in Singapore and Malaysia, we have another phrase: “Ho Jiak” translates to “Good Eats”, and it’s usually applied to situations where the food, surroundings, weather, moon and stars align to give you a sublimely delicious experience.

Sometimes we may also apply the use of it’s more powerful cousin: “shiok”.

Either way, I think you’ve gotta be pretty confident to plaster it all over the front door as the name of your restaurant, like Ho Jiak have done in their unassuming space in Strathfield Plaza.

The Order:

Indomie Goreng Lobster (Special)

Nasi Goreng with Musang King Durian (Special)

Nasi Pattaya (with added fried chicken), $15.80
Malaysian fried rice placed inside an omelette

Grandfather’s congee, $12.80
Homemade chicken congee, served with fresh herbs

Sambal Kangkung, $12.80

Roti Kaya, $8.80

The Food:

Southeast Asian food is like My Fair Lady to me (warning: musical nerdness ahead): it’s rough, unpolished and charming, with the option of being elevated to great heights. At Ho Jiak, the food is definitely charming, bringing forth a blast from the past that would make Marty McFly proud.

Ho Jiak, Strathfield. Sydney Food Blog Review

The Grandfather’s Congee came with a strong recommendation, and it ticked quite a few boxes for me. Shredded poached chicken, peanuts, chilli, and a generous lashing of julienned ginger brought me right back to Saturday mornings growing up where my mother used to cook up a homely Saturday lunch for when my dad came home from golf. All that was missing was pork meatballs, but to be perfectly honest, I think that was a delicious riff on my mother’s part.

Grandfather's congee, $12.80: Ho Jiak, Strathfield. Sydney Food Blog ReviewGrandfather’s congee, $12.80

Hong Kong style congee enthusiasts might get a rude shock, however: the Southeast Asian style is much more watery and roughly cooked (see what I mean by “unpolished”?), and more strongly flavoured than the pure, sweet rice flavours of HK.

Nasi Pattaya (with added fried chicken), $15.80: Ho Jiak, Strathfield. Sydney Food Blog ReviewNasi Pattaya (with added fried chicken), $15.80

The Nasi Pattaya is basically a Nasi goreng (fried rice) served in an omelette package for that “wow” factor. The rice was decently flavoured, and the egg was tender, but there wasn’t any particular pizzazz that triggered memories for me. And as someone who has grown up in Singapore, I’ve eaten many a Nasi Pattaya, so this one should have been a clear hair-trigger.

Passable, but nothing to write home about.

Indomie Goreng Lobster (Special): Ho Jiak, Strathfield. Sydney Food Blog ReviewIndomie Goreng Lobster (Special)

Nasi Goreng with Musang King Durian (Special): Ho Jiak, Strathfield. Sydney Food Blog ReviewNasi Goreng with Musang King Durian (Special)

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can order the Indomie Goreng Lobster and the Nasi Goreng with Musang King Durian from their specials board. Yes, you didn’t read it wrongly: there is a fried rice on there with DURIAN.

The Nasi Goreng with Musang King Durian was the same fried rice base as the Nasi Pattaya, but this time, with a durian sambal and actual durian pieces on the side. The sweet, custard-like durian flesh in a chilli application can be a bit jarring for some, but it has the potential to be SO GOOD, like a durian sambal cuttlefish dish of Jackie M’s that I had one time. This one was a touch short of the mark: the durian sambal tasted like a straight mix of durian and chilli, missing the earthy notes that I usually love in any sambal – onion, garlic, shellfish etc. The fresh durian on the side was okay, too, although with an average rice and average sambal there wasn’t much it could do to elevate the dish.

The Indomie Goreng Lobster, on the other hand, was curiously addictive. Many eateries in Southeast Asia utilise convenience products like instant noodles as a basis for quick street-style food, and I thought it was fairly accurate here. Sweet, salty, and dark with all the types of soy available, this too triggered all sorts of memories of my childhood. A touch oilier than I’d like, personally, but I can’t say that it’s not authentic. 😉

The “lobster” bit to the name, however, was a bit of a misnomer. Sure, there were pieces floating through it, but I’m not sure that it wouldn’t have been served better with more visible pieces of prawn instead. Why push a “luxury” ingredient when you don’t have to?

Sambal Kangkung, $12.80: Ho Jiak, Strathfield. Sydney Food Blog ReviewSambal Kangkung, $12.80

On the other end of the spectrum, a Sambal Kangkung is the most common, basic, “peasant”, everyday dish you can order. But therein lies the skill: because there’s so little to the dish – Sambal (chilli paste) and Kangkung (Chinese water spinach) – it’s hard to get right and easy to get wrong. Here, I have to commend Ho Jiak on the cleanliness of their spinach (you’d be surprised at how many gritty kangkung dishes I’ve eaten), and the dish was true to form with what you’d find in an average Asian eatery. The sambal could have a richer depth of flavour and the Kangkung stems could be less wilted, but as it stands, a perfectly acceptable take on a staple.

Roti Kaya, $8.80: Ho Jiak, Strathfield. Sydney Food Blog ReviewRoti Kaya, $8.80

And finally, “dessert”. Only in Asia can something like Roti serve as both an accompaniment to curry, and a dessert food all at once. I highly doubt that the Roti here is house made, however, and it’s such a shame because the competition is the likes of Mamak, and, well, we all know about the soft, tissue-like roti at Mamak. Not quite the tender chewiness that I’ve come to love about Roti, but a pretty standard menu item that you’d find back home nonetheless.

The Service:

There isn’t too much service to speak of (or criticise!) since you order and pay at the counter and have your food brought out to you. I WILL say, though, that I got the sense that the staff, at the very least, believed in their own food. The lady I spoke to at the counter could easily answer my incessant food questions, and didn’t shy away from offering me more information about their food and history: for example, did you know that they used to be called Petaling Express, but decided to change their name because they were constantly confused with the well-known Petaling St?

Well now you do. You’re welcome. XD

Value for money:

As a Singaporean, it’s always been a bit hard for me to see a roughly $15-$20 price tag on what would otherwise be street food. Part of the charm of this cuisine is that it’s cheap and tasty, and maybe it’s a habit from my days as a Uni student, but the price tag is a touch “CBD” for me, especially when we aren’t quite in the city.

On the upside? The portions are positively MASSIVE, so definitely a candidate for sharing if you’re so inclined. I don’t think there was anything served up that I could comfortably finish on my own, so be prepared to bring a doggybag home if you’d like to order more than one thing off the menu!

The Vibe:

I really liked how the seemingly no-frills decor is true to form. 3-4 two-seater tables line the wall of this narrow restaurant, which also happen to be adorned with old black and white pictures. The glass that separate the cooking area from the eating area creates a fish tank-like effect, allowing patrons to watch as their food is being tossed up in massive woks. Walls of packets and bottles (containing sauces and condiments in brands I recognise from my childhood) also line the kitchen, an unabashed way of showing just how authentic the flavours are: because if you’re using the correct brands of sauces as your base, you’re halfway there.

Very cosy, and a great little trip down memory lane.

And finally,

The experience in Ho Jiak was, for the most part, fairly authentic. It wasn’t spectacular enough to be the kind of place that you’d form a queue for (or make a special trip to), but I’d totally drop by for some chilli-laced Malaysian goodness if I was already in the area. Speaking of which: The belachan! THE BELACHAN. A shrimp-laced chilli sauce that’s made in-house daily; packing a kick that brings a happy tear to my eye. (I swear it’s not the heat of the chilli getting to me.)

I wonder if they’ll start selling jars of their belachan soon. My pantry would be happy for it.

Insatiable Munchies dined as a sponsored guest of Ho Jiak. Sponsored posts are guaranteed reviews which feature honest opinions of the reviewer and their experience, and is not an advertorial.
Ho Jiak
33/11 The Boulevard
Strathfield NSW 2135
Phone:+61 2 9008 8020

Ho Jiak Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Do you know what a ring burner is? Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket

A chopstick lifting out strands of rice noodles from the Supernova level 7 spicy noodle from Do Dee Paidang in Haymarket

I like my chilli like I like my war, nuclear.

…Wait, that didn’t come out right.

But I do like my chilli hot, and Do Dee Paidang in Haymarket has certainly thrown down the gauntlet, serving up a bowl of spicy noodles that have beaten many a food. Their Supernova Noodles are labelled as Level 7, for the 7 spoonfuls of chilli that they put in it.

Supernova Level 7 Spicy Noodles from Do Dee Paidang in HaymarketSupernova Level 7 Spicy Noodles

When you place the order, the waitress doesn’t just give you the dubious look that she saves for drunk men trying to pick her up. No, she first assumes that you mean something less spicy, and she points to the Level 3 and Level 5 options on a menu so filled with pictures it looks like a child’s storybook. I firmly stand my ground, and point to the Level 7, and her eyes widen slightly as she’s processing what I just said, and then followed by a look of uncertainty. “Are you sure?” She asks, “There are 7 spoons of chilli in that one. It’s very spicy”. I reassure her that it’s okay, and she shrugs and takes the order, recommending rice noodles as the noodle option.

And the rice noodles arrive, shrouded in a fiery red soup, and topped with fish balls, pork ribs and crispy deep fried wonton skins. The first chopstickful looks very promising – the chilli flakes cling to each strand like an over-the-hill woman going through a mid-life crisis clings to a man. I bite into it, and well, I didn’t exactly get swift kick in the pants that I was expecting. I wanted my mouth to feel like it was on fire, and my eyes to start tearing…not this slow burn business.

To be fair, it does build up slowly, but beyond causing a bit of a coughing fit, I don’t actually think it was all that spicy. In fact, I was more distracted by the slightly burnt aftertaste of chilli flakes that had been roasted too far, and that acrid bitterness was just something I couldn’t get rid of. Just a touch disappointing after all the chilli hype.

The fish balls and pork ribs were tender and delightful, and the wonton skins did add a nice touch. Especially with the Som Tum Pu we ordered – a Thai Papaya salad with fermented crabs.

Som Tum Pu Papaya Salad from Do Dee Paidang in HaymarketSom Tum Pu (Papaya Salad with Fermented Crab)

This dish is not for the faint-hearted. By all western standards, this dish stinks like a fish rotting in a sewer, but for me, it was all sorts of salty deliciousness that I crave on hot days. Sour, tangy, salty, spicy, Som Tum consists of shredded green papaya, carrot, green beans, and fresh tomatoes, pounded in a mortar and pestle with lime, fish sauce, sugar and chilli. This particular version includes fermented crab the colour of a rotting corpse on NCIS, and I particularly enjoy sucking out the salty juices from the tiny pointy legs.

What can I say? The stereotype is true that Asians will eat anything.

Durian and sticky rice dessert from Do Dee Paidang in HaymarketDurian and Sticky Rice Dessert

And because the portions here are similar to what you get in Thailand, we order a dessert as well. Durian and Sticky Rice brings back comforting memories of family trips to Thailand, where my parents and I would share a small plate of this food hall staple while taking a break from all the sightseeing and shopping. Here, it’s served in a bowl, probably because the durian is pulpier in texture due to the difficulty of getting fresh durian in Sydney. It’s still every bit as comforting as I remembered, though. Warm, sticky glutinous rice is topped with creamy durian and coconut cream, lightly salted to bring out the sweet. At Do Dee Paidang, they finish with a small pinch of Foi Thong – golden strands of egg yolk made by drizzling a mixture of duck and hen yolks into a hot sugar syrup. So rich, so addictive.

The food here really reminded me of food that I had in Bangkok, and I especially enjoyed the portion sizes. It may seem stingy, but really, the small order of noodles is only $5.50, and it allows us to try more things off the menu. I left feeling full and satisfied, but not wishing that there were napping options right in the middle of Chinatown for me to nurse my food coma. The service was well, what it was: not entirely attentive, but not rude either. It took awhile to get someone’s attention when it got busy, but once you got a hold of them, you never had to ask twice for what you wanted. Efficient.

We really enjoyed ourselves at this little eatery on Ultimo road. Makes me wonder what the grilled menu items are like.

This meal was independently paid for.
Do Dee Paidang Thai Noodle Bar & Cafe
9/37 Ultimo Rd
Haymarket, NSW 2000
Phone: 02 8065 3827

Do Dee Paidang Thai Noodle Bar & Cafe on Urbanspoon