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.