Holy Phok, Hove

Visiting fresh-ish off the boat (ok, plane) from Vietnam, Holy Phok on Hove’s Landsdown Place had a lot to live up to.

I’d dismissed it when it first opened. Its home has been a string of unsuccessful openings since I moved to the city something over a decade ago. But a rumbling of positive reviews and a packed restaurant each time I passed tempted me in. 

We were – just – squeezed in sans reservation on a Wednesday evening, which was a good sign. 

From the get go, the service was slick and friendly. And the atmosphere buzzy. 

The Better Than Squid – meaty oyster mushrooms marinated in turmeric and garlic, then deep fried – was a great start to the meal. Hot, crispy and while I wouldn’t say better, a damn fine equal to squid. The sesame crackers with Vesto (aka coriander, garlic, roasted peanuts and chili dip) were also a winner. 

We followed with large, pillowy steamed pork buns and a fishy alternative – Hanoi Hannah. While tasty, they were probably on the large side but the herby slaw and zingy flavours were good. 

Holy Phok takes sourcing and CSR a step further. Along with locally reared meat, it boasts a menu packed with herbs grown at a local social enterprise farm, Roots to Growth. 

While it might not be a carbon copy of Vietnam’s fare, and some of the dishes were slightly on the large side, this is a fun, friendly spot for dinner with decent food to boot. 

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