Ho Jiak is a Malaysian franchised restaurant, inspired by Chef Junda Khoo's grandmother's cooking. There are a few locations in Sydney; Strathfield, Haymarket and Town Hall, with only the latter doing a special truffle menu for 2020.
We (Mick, Annie and I) wandered our way to the Town Hall location at 4PM on a random Saturday and had an awesome time with the place to ourselves because no one eats breakfast at friggin' 4 PM 😂 Our server was shook to hear we were eating our first meal so late into the day. And of course, we had a bottle of white wine for breakfast because, why not? Hehe.
To start, this was their fish skin with salted duck egg yolk, butter and curry leaves for $16. It was well-fried, delicious and super crispy. The pictures do not do it justice but the skin was covered with the salted duck egg yolk, adding this creamy sweetened flavour to the savoury bite. There was a bit of oil but these greasy juices were worth it for retaining the fragrant fish taste. Annie said these were better than the famous Irvin's salted egg fish skin!!!! 😍
These delicious deep fried chicken wings were served with a salted egg aioli and holy mama, *Homer Simpson's drooling noise*. This was the inchi kabin and we loved it! It was so fresh with its juicy flesh and thin crispy skin layer; added on the fattening aioli sauce and woo, ensued heavy breathing. Annie said the salted duck egg flavour was not as prominent as the fish skin but it didn't stop me from gnawing on my wings. The only downside, these 6 wings costed $32 hnnggg.
Ok when this Hainan chicken rice arrived, we were very confused because all we saw was a bed of coriander. This slow poached chicken with seasoned rice was $19 and a little too small for our enjoyment. I think this price was for a single portion because they do have a half chicken option for $32 and a full chicken option for $55 in the 'favourites' section. Next paragraph for review.
This was the accompanied rice. I found it a little dry despite the chicken seasoning but I am no Hainan expert. Mick and Annie enjoyed it and loved the chilli and ginger sauce with it. As for the chicken, it was very tender and juicy but with only 4 pieces between us, we were left unsatisfied.
This gorgeous-looking dish was the nasi goreng with wagyu steak for $39. The wagyu was worth the price because it was tenderized and savoury, grilled well in the XO sauce. There was actually a lot of the XO because it completed covered the charred Malay-style rice, making it a little greasy despite the spicy seafood infused into the grains. The egg was very creamy so I hope you enjoyed the #eggporn. The cucumbers and tomato really helped cut through the oily fatness of this dish.
This was the Amahs chai po nui, translated to grandma's signature radish omelette with crab meat and fresh herbs for $25. The crab meat was fresh, with a slight mix of brininess and sweetness. The omelette was very fluffy with a nice fried layer.
We chose this restaurant for the truffle but only ordered one truffle dish LOL Sorry for the misleading title; I'm not an IG foodie. These reviews are from a genuine paying customer.
We got their IG famous buttermilk truffle indomie. This tasted like a gourmet stir fried mi goreng with a strong umami flavour profile and spicy sambal. The spice was tolerable for my basic white palate. The buttermilk sauce was very heavy, like a creamy Mac and cheese, and Annie described it as béchamel-esque. Unfortunately the truffle flavour was mild so our $48 felt unvalued. By the end of this dish, we were struggling to finish it because there was too much grease and fat lining our stomachs.
Our wine was a bottle of 2017 Clos Gaudin Vouray Sec Chenin Blanc.
As you can see, the interior design of this new location was hectic. It had a lot of IG friendly spots such as the paintings on the wall, the floral roof and the fake tree. This Town Hall location only opened on 9th March 2020, during the first spike of the Covid pandemic, so we were glad to see they have been doing okay during this tough period.
The service was amazing! The staff were friendly, attentive and informative. It almost felt like a classy fine-dining experience because they were changing our dishes and utensils in-between courses, pouring us water and asking us if we were ready for our next dish. Top notch, compared to their Strathfield location which is more of a dingy takeaway store 😂.
We usually eat at Ho Jiak every 4-6 months, depending on our cravings and how our stomachs feel because even after this meal, we were all shitting diarrhoea. The food was greasy. Delicious, yes, but super greasy and our digestive systems were crying afterwards. The buttermilk could have contributed to our lactose-intolerant weak intestines but even Mick (the strongest of us) was sitting on the toilet.
We would still go back... in a year's time.
Until then, thanks for reading, happy eating!