Save 20% off! Join our newsletter and get 20% off right away!
Holy Basil

Blessed Food, Divine Place

Filipinos love to eat, it’s part of our culture to have a healthy love of good food. Where there’s great food being served, majority of us probably have been there or have heard of it. This is how I found out about this classy little restaurant, hidden in Western Sydney which is fast becoming one of the ‘must-eat-at’ places in Sydney, HOLY BASIL.

Holy Basil

Address: 233A Canley Vale Rd Canley Heights NSW          Phone: 9727 7585
City address:          Shark Hotel – 127 Liverpool Street, Sydney NSW          Phone: 9283 8284
Cuisine: Laotian/Thai
Price Range: $30 and below
Bayanihan Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Fried Ice Cream
The popular Holy Basil Fried Ice Cream

Holy Basil’s name in the Filipino community has rapidly spread, mostly, through ‘word of mouth’. The Laotian cuisine  is described as ‘unique and dominated with fresh herbs and spices, beautifully balancing sweet, sour and spicy flavours.’  A combination of flavours which would be highly enjoyed by the Filipino palate. It’s been hailed as one of the top 10 restaurants to visit by the Daily Telegraph in 2010 and also recently featured by the  SBS show, Food Safari.

Holy Basil
Holy Basil

This is probably why in the past years, I noticed a surge of social media friends repeatedly “checking-in” and sharing photos of sought-after meals here, it’s “the” place to be.  So, not one to miss out, I dragged two friends with me one Tuesday night to also “check in” and to check out what the fuss was about.

I heard about the famous long queues at their Canley Heights restaurant but clearly it does not deter its loyal following and curious first-timers.  It’s quite evident that to get a table at its peak hours excites the patrons, who feel a sense of triumph after patiently lining up to taste Holy Basil’s delicacies.

On the night we went, though it was busy, the restaurant was not overcrowded and we didn’t have to wait long for a table, nor our food which arrived quickly. The decor and ambiance at Holy Basil, together with the highly hospitable staff, made us feel very welcome and comfortable.

fish 630x417
Crispy Fish with Green Mango Salad

Once seated, we were blessed to have been served by one of its owners, Tony. He shares how amazed they are that many Filipinos love to visit Holy Basil. We asked ‘which is the most popular dish amongst the Filipinos?’ “The Crispy Fish with Green Mango Salad,” he exclaims. His wife and business partner, Louise also shares: ‘The soft flesh of fresh snapper dipped in a house batter provide a contrast with a tart taste of the mango salad is a winner not just among the Filipino patrons, but we are seeing this with the Vietnamese clientele in Canley Heights as well as the Korean and Chinese clientele in the city location’. The Filipinos’ love of seafood and the popular green mango quite evident here!

papaya salad
Tam Mak Hoong (Papaya Salad Laos Style)

So, our order included  Mixed Entree (consisted of fish cake, spring roll, chicken wing and curry puff), Tam Mak Hoong (Papaya Salad Laos Style- a dish unique only to Laos cusine with complex mixture of sweet, sour and spicy salad tempered with a strong yet addictive crab paste and anchovies), Ox Tongue (marinated grilled Ox tongue thinly sliced and served with Holy Basil’s special dipping sauce) and of course, the Crispy Fish with Green Mango Salad (Deep fried fresh whole fish served on a bed of green mango salad (or green apples when not in season) dressed in mint leaves, coriander, shallots, Spanish onions, chilli and lime juice).

sticky rice resized
sticky rice

Served with sticky rice and a  choice of different flavoured mocktails each (avocado, mango and strawberry), we had one of the most exceptionally flavoured and delightful food experiences of our lives. The Papaya salad was definitely unique in flavour from other papaya salads out there and the ox tongue very soft with a highly flavoursome marinade. The fresh crispy fish was undoubtedly the highlight of my night and I can see why this is sought-after by the Filipino crowd. (Oh, if only I could use my ‘kamay’!)

mango, avocado and strawberry mocktails
mango, avocado and strawberry mocktails

For dessert, the most famous item on Holy Basil’s menu and what my friends recommended I try is their Fried ice cream. It’s a deconstructed fried ice-cream, wrapped in filo pastry and served with fresh strawberries, caramel sauce and roast coconut muesli. Tony has created this recipe out of love of savoury desserts and I’m determined to keep this as a Holy Basil legacy. Don’t mistake this for the rock hard ball of ice-cream deep fried in Chinese restaurants,’ shares Louise. And  I agree, it’s certainly one-of-a-kind. The huge serving is also a plus for those that have a sweet tooth, like me.

This dessert is so popular that owners Tony and Louise had to open another restaurant,  Le Caravelle, in order to be able to accommodate diners who just want to eat Fried Ice cream. Le Caravelle, where we had the opportunity to enjoy their famous dessert and chat some more,  opened only two months ago but is also fast becoming a ‘must-go-to’  restaurant. It is located right next door to Holy Basil at Canley Heights. Aside from the fried ice cream, customers are also able to enjoy modern European food, including ribs, steaks and gelatos that are all produced in-house.

I can clearly see the love, dedication and hard work this inspiring couple has put into their business. I now understand its popularity with the Filo crowd. Aside from the wonderful delicacies this restaurant has to offer, Filipinos love going to Holy Basil because of the atmosphere, similarities between our cultures and especially the love placed in every detail of the customer’s experience.

We thoroughly enjoyed our entire dining and social experience at their two restaurants and will definitely return for more! Owner Louise advises us that the busiest times are Friday and Saturday nights, 7-7.30pm. On these nights, she suggests patrons come early around 5-6pm or after 9pm to avoid the queues.

About Holy Basil

Holy Basil is owned by husband and wife, Tony Inthavong and Louise Nguyen. Holy Basil in Canley Heights opened 4 years ago. Yearning a change of career, Tony who was a qualified panel beater, pursued his love for cooking by working in different restaurants, even starting out as a dishwasher in order to fully learn the trade. He also had the opportunity to work under one of Australia’s leading chefs and restaurateurs, Luke Mangan. With the encouragement of his wife Louise, he learned and pursued his passion for cooking. Clearly as a result of this passion and their hard work, Holy Basil is now renowned for its food, being one of the ‘must eat at’ places in Sydney. Working together to make this venture a success, they have opened a second Holy Basil restaurant at Shark hotel in the city and third restaurant, Le Caravelle in Canley Heights.