When Haute Time paid a visit to House of Ho – the third restaurant from celebrity chef Bobby Chinn (owner of restaurants in Hanoi and Saigon and author of an array of books on Vietnamese food) – earlier this week, the place was packed to the rafters.
Step inside this Soho spot and you’ll soon see why. House of Ho is a seriously good look restaurant – all oak floors, low lit lighting, bamboo timber tables and a slick 10m bar where Don Draper would no doubt drink if he was in town.
But enough of the décor, does the food match the sexy surroundings? Happily – for the most part – the answer is yes. Dishes, which are meant to be shared (as Bobby states on the menu “sharing is caring”), are light and fresh bursting with the flavours of herbs and spices such as chillies, lemongrass, garlic, ginger and coconut milk.
Haute Time ordered quite a collection to poke our chopsticks at but standouts include the Seared wild mushrooms rolls (you won’t be able to stop yourself from hoovering them all up), a Pomelo salad with shredded chicken and a Smokey aubergine in a warm scallion vinaigrette so sensational as to make scraping the plate a necessity.
Honourable mentions too must go to the Morning Glory, tossed in shallot oil and finished with crispy garlic, signature Apple-smoked smoked pork belly with braised cabbage and the Lemongrass monkfish with a fish caramel sauce.
So far, so healthy but if you’re looking for a sweet treat (now that detox January is nearly over for another year) the Marou chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream impresses both in terms of terms of presentation and ensuing taste bud explosion.
To drink, there’s a great list of cheekily named cocktails – think Ho’groni (Campari, Tanqueray 10 gin, pomelo bitters) and Ho’rny devil (a concoction of lemongrass vodka, Vietnamese devil’s chilli and fresh coconut) as well as the usual wines, beers and spirits.
Service is pleasant but woefully slow and a tad inefficient (we experienced a few order hiccups) but this is a minor quibble. For the most part, the fun sounding House of Ho is a cut above the general standard of Vietnamese restaurants in the capital and has the potential to be something really special; it just needs to spice up its effort when it comes to customer service.