SYDNEY | A Sydney restaurant that’s been on my radar for a while now is Ho Jiak. The restaurant is Penang born, self taught chef and co-owner Junda Khoo’s homage to the food he grew up with – in particular his Amah’s (grandmother’s) cooking.
The Town Hall location opened up just before the world went crazy last year, and immediately received accolades from fans new and old. The key thing about the food here is that you can tell that it comes from the heart. It’s home style, grandmother cooking at its essence, but also modern and exciting. There’s no skimping on anything, and everything is done with purpose. The menu is familiar, but exciting.
When I visited, I wasn’t particularly hungry. I had the Haymarket location pencilled in for a lunchtime visit but the sizeable breakfast I’d enjoyed at Pochito and degustation I had booked for dinner at Sang By Mabasa meant I wasn’t too bothered about lunch. But when I looked at my phone and noticed that it was 1:30 and that Ho Jiak Town Hall was literally around the corner, how could I not pop in.
So pop in I did, with the idea to just try one thing, something light to tie me over. The problem was, everything on the menu looked so good. I was really struggling to decide what one thing to have. Eventually I decided to go for the Nasi Lemak… and then I saw the bonus page at the end of the menu, with the magical words “wagyu marrow rendang roti”. So much for a light lunch!
The dish features a glistening, rich red plate of slow cooked bone marrow with Ho Jiak’s signature rendang sauce and a plate full of crispy, buttery, roti. Zero regrets ordering this one. I couldn’t finish it all by myself, but gosh there were zero regrets here. With some cold Teh C Peng (layered milk tea) to wash it all down, I was in heaven.
Thanks Junda for ditching the IT and commerce career to follow your dream of cooking your Amah inspired for others. Next time I’ll be back with friends and an empty stomach to try so much more.
Ho Jiak (Town Hall)
125 York Street
New South Wales 2000
Mon – Wed: 11:30am to 2:30pm, 5:00pm to 9:15pm
Thu: 11:30am to 2:30pm, 5:00pm to 9:45pm
Fri: 11:30am to 2:30pm, 5:00pm to 10:45pm
Sat: 11:30am to 10:45pm
Sun: 11:30am to 9:15pm