My first visit to Ho Jiak’s Haymarket restaurant last year didn’t leave me with a lot of great feelings, but my most recent visit to their Strathfield food court store did. Barring the involvement of serious live shellfish and other seafood, East and South East Asian food generally has an upper price point that most patrons would be willing to pay. I can only imagine that the higher overhead costs in the CBD are part of what makes Ho Jiak’s Strathfield Plaza branch a more attractive option.
Food is reasonably priced, and service is fast. There is no in-restaurant seating, with only a few tables and plastic chairs outside shared with the kebab shop across the corridor. While some may baulk at this lack of formality, I think it’s important to consider this is the kind of thing that keeps food as cheap and accessible as possible. I’ve certainly never thought that char kway teow needs a tablecoth, though if the presence of a few less savoury characters roaming the halls of Strathfield Plaza could be managed that would be more ideal.
The Bah Kut Teh Rice ($19) was good. From the garlic infused rice to the you tiao to the herbal soup and pork ribs, each bite was full of flavour. The rice was warm and moist, and the serving of pork belly was quite generous for the price. I didn’t quite feel that the bak kut teh was the standard flavour – it had more of a dark soy sauce component – but it was good nonetheless. The you tiao was a bit tepid in temperature, but somehow incredibly crispy, great dipped in the soup or on its own.
If the bah kuth teh rice was good, the Indomee Goreng Salted Duck Egg & Crab Meat ($22) was even better. Every single bite of this was good. The noodles were al dente and delicious, completely transcending the expectations set by its 40 cent per packet price. The rich soy, spicy, and umami flavours of the noodles were amplified by the mince, fish balls, and vegetables, and duck egg accompaniments. The crab meat, though probably the bigger money ingredient here, didn’t really add as much as I had hoped. This was just an amazing dish (if a little salty), though next time I’d save $4 and get it without the crab.
The Inchi Kabin (4 for $13) were Nonya-style deep fried chicken mid wings. Mid wings are, in my opinion, the optimal part of the chicken wing, and I much prefer them to drumsticks. These particular wings were quite good, with a nice crispy skin and moist interior. They reminded me of those at Nam2 in their construction.
The Teh Susu ($3.50) is a very cheap milk tea.
I really enjoyed Ho Jiak’s Strathfield Plaza outlet. The food was great, and the prices quite reasonable. There are both pros and cons to its food court location. We were asked for spare change by the same guy twice during our quick meal.
Ho Jiak Strathfield
Shop 33 Strathfield Plaza, 11 The Boulevarde, Strathfield NSW 2135
(02) 9008 8020