Ho Jiak Town Hall
Years ago, Junda Khoo would frequent 125 York Street. Back when it was The Cuban Place. Now he's taken over the space himself, for Ho Jiak Town Hall.
It’s Khoo and business partner William Xie’s third restaurant, following a tiny Malaysian-street-food-based eatery in Strathfield mall and another, bigger project honouring his grandma’s cooking in Haymarket. This one is two-storey bar-restaurant, is the first to showcase Khoo’s cooking.
The dishes are unfussy and packed with umami and punch – dishes such as the soupless fried laksa, fried chicken with herb-infused batter so succulent it drips as you dip it in salt-egg-yolk aioli, and sotong goreng berempah, a spice-heavy, battered deep-fried squid.
That’s one possible experience you could have here; another option is to thin your wallet with a few big-ticket items such as fresh barra from the tank, seven-plus Wagyu skewers with satay, or even a whole lobster. But the most popular item coming out of Khoo’s kitchen is the har mee bomb: prawn noodle soup, vermicelli noodles and pork fat inside a dumplinh.
The biggest departure from Khoo and Xie’s previous restaurants is the booze offering, compiled in collaboration with the team at Haymarket’s Bancho Bar, in particular Yoshi Onishi. The cocktails are playful and flavoursome. The wine list hovers around the 100-bottle mark, and there's a good variety to it.