Directory

HOLY BASIL

Cuisine: Thai,Laotian

On approach, this restaurant vaguely resembles an open-air French cafe with striped awnings (a nod to Laos’s French colonial history), but inside you will be given cultural context with numerous gilt Buddha statues and wall reliefs. By 6pm it gets busy, with a footpath queue being diplomatically managed. The menu is a combination of Laotian and Thai cuisines straddling both sides of the Mekong river. Nok tod, marinated and barbecued quail $10.90, is a delicious entree to pick at, followed by lan khao, fried rice ball and ham salad $11.90, a typical Lao dish, or pad khing, gingered stirfry seafood and vegetables $15.90. The menu is extensive and well-presented with the origin of most dishes mentioned. The increasingly large crowd waiting on the footpath suggests this restaurant is not just popular but good.

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THANH MAI

Cuisine: Thai,Laotian,Vietnamese

The gentrification of the Canley Heights eat street has not escaped our notice but Thanh Mai, with its cheerfully eccentric collection of plastic flowers (including tulips in picket-fence boxes) and glass-topped tables with lime-green and yellow cloths underneath, remains a favourite. The menu is comprehensive but if you find it daunting the staff are ever eager to help. There are plenty of great seafood options including mudcrab done in several ways, market price, and warming hotpots $12–$15 with seafood, chicken or beancurd and veg. They’re open late so it’s a great place for anything from a late-night snack of pho $6.50 or congee $9–$10 to a slap-up Saturday-night seafood steamboat featuring fish, prawns, calamari and vegetables $25–$35. An enduring crowd-pleaser.

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