In this collection, we assessment eating places from a completely vegetarian angle. While some eating places might be particularly vegetarian, others can be mainstream. We’ll be tasting every thing from veggie burgers, to posh meat-free menus. Along the best way, we’ll attempt to discover out, so far as potential, whether or not hen inventory, cheese produced from animal rennet, gelatine, fish sauce and so forth will not be lurking within the supposedly vegetarian dishes.
The House of Ho is a hoot. You can inform by its identify. Is this Modern Vietnamese restaurant, which opened in Soho earlier this yr, alluding to Ho Chi Minh City, or the nation’s greatest-recognized dish, pho? Or maybe it’s a nod to the situation itself, or the world’s extra, erm, insalubrious companies? We do not know – however there are definitely rather a lot of ‘hos’ to reference. It’s owned by one of Asia’s greatest-recognized superstar cooks and TV personalities, the Egyptian-Chinese Bobby Chinn, who owns eating places in Hanoi and Shanghai. This is his first London enterprise.
The spacious, sultry inside is dimly lit with moody lighting and flickering candles. There’s a slick bar, however just for allotting drinks, there’s nowhere to take a seat down. Elsewhere there are a number of totally different seating areas, some separated by screens or curtains. Cream-colored, plaster-impact partitions are adorned with graffiti-like murals – presumably to create a ‘Vietnamese market’ impact – and modern artwork. Even on an early weekday night, there was quite a bit of bustle and buzz.
It’s a slickly run operation, with exceptionally on-the-ball employees who’ve clearly been educated in allure faculty. Can we’ve a greater desk? No drawback. Our Vietnamese espresso is chilly! Here’s one other one. Only being abruptly introduced the invoice on the finish, after being politely informed that anyone else was ready for our desk – the higher desk that wasn’t ours to start with, the place we’d lingered for some three hours, with a second cup of espresso drip-drip-dripping virtually in sluggish-mo by way of the filter – dampened the temper a bit of. But solely a bit of. Our overriding feeling was that of pure enjoyment.
So what concerning the meals? Like many ‘sharing plates’-sort institutions, the menu is split considerably confusingly into arbitrary sections. ‘Light and uncooked’ has just one veggie dish, ‘scorching and grilled’ two; plus there’s one principal and some sides which might be appropriate for non-meat eaters. We want to see extra veggie selection on the menu (which, to be truthful, is fairly concise to start with), however we’re advised that 60-70% of the gadgets could be tailored. At the time of ordering, you’re requested in case you have any dietary necessities or meals allergic reactions. Moreover, a separate vegetarian menu may be put collectively upon request. Unlike some of the extra conventional mother-and-pop Vietnamese joints in London, the veggie dishes right here don’t have fish sauce or shrimp paste lurking in them – they’re made with appropriate substitutes.
Pho cuon rice noodle rolls are gentle with out being slippery, full of smoked wild mushrooms, perked up with coriander leaves and Vietnamese mint, and sprinkled with crispy fried shallots. The mushrooms, we’re advised, are smoked in a Combi oven containing a smokery lined with Canadian maple chips. Their distinctive flavour additional advantages from a energetic chilli dipping sauce. A single pillowy cushion of gentle silken tofu, full of combined mushrooms and cellophane noodles, sits elegantly in a pool of robustly-flavoured chilli-tomato sauce. Strewn with coriander leaves, it tastes vibrant, and is skilfully made (it’s not straightforward to stuff tender, wobbly tofu).
Long strips of peeled roasted aubergines garnished with shredded spring onions and crispy shallots are comparable in style to Middle Eastern meze dishes, and no much less scrumptious. A waitress pouring ‘scallion French dressing’ from a miniature container on the desk provides a bit of theatre. Chayote (pear-formed pale inexperienced squash) stir-fried with eggs, coriander leaves and, sure, extra crispy shallots are splendidly earthy. Typical to the delicacies, the ample use of recent coriander, basil and a spread of totally different mints lifts the flavours; however too many crispy shallots, although they supply textural variation, deliver a contact of bitterness and masks the dishes’ subtleties and fragrant qualities.
The solely actual disappointment is the star foremost dish of vegetable curry. Fashionista-sized child aubergines, potatoes, okra, carrots, pumpkin, pearl onions, spring onions and child sweetcorn are considerably exhausting and undercooked; and the aubergines are bitter. The coconut gravy is underneath-seasoned and bland, and the curry is served on superfluous rice noodles. (The fragrant jasmine rice is a a lot better accompaniment). Despite the welcome crunch of coarsely crushed roasted peanuts on prime, the dish doesn’t fairly come collectively.
Trio of strawberry, ardour fruit and intriguingly flavoured lemongrass ice lotions, served in a martini glass, are advantageous. Like some of the opposite dishes right here, they’ve been given the sous vide and Pacojet remedy. There’s technological razzmatazz within the kitchen, which has experimented with numerous totally different gear and temperatures to approximate the type of flavours and textures you’d discover in Vietnam. The meals is superbly introduced on inventive Asian stoneware and pottery.
From a complete drinks record robust on wine and sake, we beloved the Asian-influenced, vodka-based mostly cocktails flavoured with lemongrass, coconut, chillies, rose and lychee. We paid round £forty every, together with drinks and repair – very affordable for a classy central London venue. Although it’s a uncommon sensible Vietnamese in London, The House of Ho isn’t unique. There have been hip fusion-Asian eating places arising 15 years in the past serving prettily plated small dishes – comparable in spirit, however targeted on Thai and Japanese fare trendy on the time. Ho doesn’t fake to be ‘genuine’, however it has an authentically huge coronary heart. It’s a crowd-pleaser with a relentless really feel-good issue. It’s a Hollywood blockbuster film, not a French movie with subtitles. You’ll depart with a smile.
The House of Ho, fifty seven-fifty nine Old Compton Street, W1D 6HP. Tel: 020 7287 0770. Images kindly offered by the restaurant.
We evaluate strictly anonymously, and pay for all of the meals, drinks and repair A:00 pm – Source: londonist.com