Bobby Chin is well know for his TV exploits, however, he also owns two very well regarded restaurants in Hanoi & Saigon. Now, a third in London has been added to the list in an impressive double fronted site on Old Compton St in Soho. The official opening day was January the 6th, although they were operating in soft launch over Christmas. I popped in earlier this week.
First impressions are good. The space is vibrant and buzzy and the menu looks promising. We started with cocktails, I had a horny devil simply because I can’t resist chilli anywhere, even in my drinks. With lemongrass vodka, Vietnamese devil’s chilli (floating menacingly on the top of the cocktail) and fresh coconut, it was fresh and sharp with a lovely gentle heat.
Choosing a wine list to match Asian food presents a challenge, but they have done well here. We chose a bottle of Gruner Veltliner (Spiegel, Kamptal, Austria 2012), a lovely bright aromatic wine with a crispy dry finish which proved a great match for the food. The food menu is divided into Light & Raw, Hot & Grilled, Ho’s Dishes, Sides and Dessert. The menu is not strictly Vietnamese (there is a ceviche for example) but Chinn’s food tends towards fusion with strong Vietnamese influences, and it doesn’t suffer for it.
We started with the Light & Raw section, specifically fillet mignon pho cuon cold rice noodle rolls which were served with crispy noodles on top. Plump with tender fillet and herbs inside, we fought over the last one which tells you all you might need to know. Alongside, we had crab pomelo salad. The pomelo (a very sour fruit, like a grapefruit with an anger management problem) wasn’t as sharp as when I have had it previously in Asia, but it still paired well with the crab. Crisp vietnamese crackers went well on the side.
Next, on to the Hot & Grilled section with chicken wings in a spicy chilli glaze. These were a little sweet and the meat was so tender it fell off of the bone. I suspect some sous vide action at work here, which isn’t a criticism, more of an observation. Hanoi’s grilled 5 spice quails on crispy noodles came next. These had better balance with lighter spice and were very pleasant.
Ho’s Dishes next. The Shaking Beef which is a grass fed 21 day aged fillet is nicely spiced and cooked perfectly. Fillet is not normally my favourite cut of steak but this was really nicely done. Chicken potato curry was pleasant and mild although not special, I think I would quite like that for lunch rather than dinner. Morning glory proved a very nice side dish.
Molten marou chocolate cake (made with a combination of Vietnamese & Belgian chocolate) was a nice indulgent finish. There are no dessert wines but we return again to the cocktail lost for a Hanoi Martini (kahlua, vodka, Vietnamese coffee, carnation milk) which was slightly sweet and great with the dessert.
Overall impressions were very positive. The cocktail list was great, the wine list well considered and the food polished and refined without being overly complicated. The prices are very reasonable too (from £4 for wild mushroom pho cuon rice noodle rolls to the most expensive item on the menu, which is the shaking beef at £14).
3.5/5* (Yes, a 3.5! So shoot me. It was not quite a 4 based on this one visit but better than expectations. It is early days.)
House of Ho, 57-59 Old Compton St, Soho, London W1D 6HP
020 7287 0770
I was invited to review House of Ho
* all reviews from this forward will be given x/5 based on
4/5 exceeded expectations
3/5 met expectations and was very pleasant
2/5 did not meet expectations