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38-52 Waterloo Street,
Surry Hills NSW 2010
On Waterloo Street. 10 minute walk from Central Station.
PROFILED BY DE GROOTS MEDIA
Nestled between Orto Trading Co. and Izakaya Fujima, ho.mei is a Modern Asian tapas restaurant that has great potential.The fit-out is modest, with cute black wooden tables and an assortment of retro chairs in white, black and red hues. Colourful snapshots of the back streets in central Hong Kong and Burma line the restaurant's walls while soulful-pop tunes linger in the background, creating a mellow atmosphere.
Thomas Ly heads up the kitchen, offering an evolving selection of homely Asian fusion share plates, which come in small and large selections. To begin, steamed king prawn and pork dumplings spiced with XO sauce arrive pretty as a picture and are a robust and spicy combo. A warm lightly-battered char-grilled aubergine salad is wonderfully tangy, buttoned with mushrooms, julienned chillies, coriander and lime dressing, but it's the aromatic beef brisket that steals the show. A generous tomato-based curry of tender, stringy beef comes in a cinnamon, star-anise-spiced potage with mushrooms, carrots and a smattering of herbs. Poured generously over steamed rice, it's an esteemed combination. The restaurant offers a small, accessible wine list and from Monday to Friday from 6-7pm there is happy hour, with 10 buck cocktails and a glass of house wine for a measly fiver. Bargain.
So where does this leave ho.mei? It's no Longrain or Jimmy Liks, but it's sure as hell a step up from your local takeaway. This is a solid suburban eatery that is in no way pretentious, just good, well-priced food with friendly service that's delivered with a big smile. If that's not enough to warrant a return, I don't know what is.