In Short: Ho Jiak is a Malaysian-Singaporean restaurant that sets itself apart by bringing a slice of really good and authentic Malaysian street-style dining to Strathfield.
Strathfield is without a doubt Koreaville and is the go-to place if you want to experience the best of Korean cuisine with Korean culture right here in Australia! In amongst the BBQ hot plates, ginseng chicken, and tubs of kimchi, there are also a select few restaurants in Strathfield that are not Korean, and Ho Jiak(好吃) presents a menu of hawker food classics from Malaysia and Singapore. Opened by Junda Khoo, who is from Penang and partner William Xie, a Singaporean, the Asian-inspired restaurant is located inside Strathfield Plaza, a shopping mall in Strathfield. Ho Jiak has made a name for itself and they have a loyal following who swear by their excellent authentic Malaysian/Singaporean food.
In our numerous visits, there’s always a scramble to secure a common table in the food court area outside the compact little space that the actual restaurant itself occupies. The process for food ordering is really simple; order your food, grab a number and wait at your table for your food to be delivered. To replicate the feel of the food stalls, and allow you to feel like you are back in Malaysia , there are trinkets and posters of cultural festivals, snapshots of Ipoh, Penang and Melaka. The menu is pretty extensive with all the staple Asian rice and noodle options like Laksa and Char Kwey Teow with flavours as close as you can get to the real thing without having to actually fly to Singapore or Malaysia! This is achieved with the use of traditional ingredients like Chinese sausages, pork fat, duck egg and even cockles! To wash it all down, there is also a range of traditional Singaporean/Malaysian drinks like Kopi Susu (Coffee with milk), Tea Susu (tea with milk), and Longan water.
If you love your Nasi Lemak, you must try Ho Jiak Nasi Lemak Jumbo. It comes with enough coconut rice for 2 (maybe 3 even!), chicken wings, a side of beef rendang, skewers of satay chicken, half hardboiled egg, one fried egg sunny side up, ikan bilies with peanuts and sambal chilli, all presented in a tray in individual compartments. The rice is warm, soft, fluffy and fragrant with the smell of coconut milk and pandan leaf. With the meats, the satay chicken was perfectly marinated and cooked tender on the inside with charred bits on the outside. The beef was fall-off-the-fork tender, with prominent ginger and lemongrass flavours that checks all the boxes of a good beef rendang. The highlight of the Nasi Lemak though was the Sambal chilli that was both spicy and bold in flavour; it’s not for the faint-hearted, but oh-so-good and worth getting fired up over.
Little Coco and Viner Sammi loves her chicken and rice. One of her favourite dishes is Hainanese chicken rice. But, unfortunately the day that we went, Ho Jiak had sold out and the waiter suggested that we try the Roasted Chicken with Coconut Rice instead. It was definitely a good recommendation as both the rice and chicken were fragrant and soft. The rice is the same as the one used for the Nasi Lemak and is aromatic, rich and filled with the flavour of coconut. With the fat underneath the skin rendered during the process of roasting, the chicken skin becomes more crispy and delicious. The chicken is served in a small pool of soy sauce and sesame oil mix which helps to further accentuate the flavours of the meat. For a garnish, fried garlic is sprinkled on top of the chicken to give it extra fragrance and flavour and finally the sprigs of green parsley to give it a bit of green. Sammi gave the dish a definite thumbs up!
For a small extra fee, you can turn your rice/noodle dish order into a value meal with a drink and extra small side dish thrown in. I would recommend the fish ball soup as it is really value for money. There are enough fish balls and vegetables in there for it to be a meal on its own, and it complements any of the dishes really well.
Discerning Malaysian food buffs or Penangites can finally rejoice that there is finally a place in Sydney to get authentic Malaysian food. Ho Jiak means delicious or good eats (好吃) in Hokkian and it definitely lives up to its namesake.