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Ela Carte reviews Holy Basil Thai in Croydon

Holy Basil Thai – 1/66 Maroondah Hwy Croydon ? http://holybasilthai.com/

Confession. A listener pointed me toward this one in August last year, and I thought ? I can’t go to every suburban Thai restaurant in the hope it’s a cut above. Then I checked online reviews, then Holy Basil Thai got a pump up in The Age. Then I finally got out to Croydon. It was a cut above.

Owners Duncan and Julia are ‘veg-aquarian’, and so the menu is too ? that means only seafood and vegetarian or vegan dishes. The seafood itself is strictly Australian or New Zealand, and sustainable. They make all their curry pastes on site, and the menu is designed to be 90% gluten free. The food minorities are certainly looked after here. So, what does it mean for the rest of us?

It means you can order your pork prad kow, or green chicken curry ? but you will get some bloody tasty crab dumplings or cashew stirfry.

I did order almost exclusively seafood ? yet, one of my favourite dishes was a vego option. The corn and banana flower fritters were stupendous. Fresh banana bell flowers, sweetcorn and Thai herbs are steamed and then crispy fried in a tasty batter and served with a lime mayonnaise. Oodles of flavour.

Tasty too were the tempura Coffin Bay oysters. They’re coated in a gluten free tempura batter and fried, and served with a piquant house-made tom yum mayo, with tangerine fruit pearls for a pop of sour and sweet. As with the rest of our meal, this was a pretty dish to boot ? edible flowers abounds.

Tassie Scallops.

Tassie Scallops.

Tassie scallops are grilled and served on the half shell with chilli jam, fresh ginger and a pomelo, coriander, shallot & chilli salsa.

Massamun is probably is one of those curries you associated with red meat or poultry so I was interested to see how it went with large Queensland prawns. It goes alright. Sweet, but with a healthy chilli kick, these guys serve it with Victorian kipfler potatoes, fresh pineapple and cashews.

Calamari stirfry.

Calamari stirfry.

The winner from the mains, though, was easily the Thai basil and chilli stirfry ? Thai basil of course otherwise known as ‘holy basil’. You can choose from tofu, calamari or prawn for protein. The Geelong calamari was fresh and tender, it was accompanied by a multitude of mushrooms (baby king, oyster, swiss brown, and straw), and the sauce was spot on.

Thai food can be disappointing outside of Thailand, getting the balance right can be tough and I think sometimes venues can try too hard to cater for Western tastes, rather than just pumping out those terrific traditional flavours.

These guys are doing something altogether different ? a menu which correlates with their conscience, fuses Thai with cuisines like Burmese and Japanese, and tries to cater for people with moral and physical food issues. All of that aside, they’re just producing terrific tasting south east Asian cuisine. Definitely not your average suburban Thai.

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