Restaurant Review: House of Ho

This characterful Soho eatery and self-proclaimed Abba-free zone offers inventive Vietnamese dishes with a side of wry humour

“What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine”: Bobby Chinn might not get himself a second date if he lives by the tagline that appears in his menu. But rest assured, every diner that comes through the doors of House of Ho, his Vietnamese fusion restaurant, will feel the same.

The cool, dark interior combines the elegance and intimacy that you need on those all-important dinner dates. The table settings are simple, but there’s plenty of conversation pieces around, from the elaborate pictures and paintings hanging on the walls to the skilled mixologist behind the bar.

First impressions of the menu: a resounding success. The opening pages announce a blanket ban on Abba in the restaurant, and anywhere that does that need do no more to win me over! Once you make your way past the rest of the house rules, the range of food options is enough to leave you somewhat spoilt for choice – so much so that we felt it necessary to order cocktails to enjoy while we finished reading.

We were recommended to try between five and eight of the small plates to share, and not wanting to overdo things straight away, we picked the minimum from various pages, but kept hold of a menu just in case.

The food comes when it’s ready, and first up for us were the exquisite rice noodle rolls filled with crispy-skinned sea bass. They were generously filled and oozing with flavour, and the chilli dipping sauce and refreshing avocado complemented them perfectly.

Neither of us could identify the seven spices used to marinade the crispy squid, but that didn’t detract from its brilliance. Tender, with no sign of rubberiness, it was 100 percent delicious. Another standout was the sweet and sour duck breast, served up alongside a surprisingly flavoursome little Chinese cabbage parcel filled with black sticky rice.

There’s a very concise list of desserts, or “Happy Endings” as Head Ho Bobby likes to call them, but we had no problem finding something that appealed. Presentation is king with the chocolate cake, but while it’s pretty as a picture, it also has the taste to match. And for something a bit different, definitely try the sticky rice pudding.

It’s not just the great food that will keep people coming back for more – House of Ho has got the service spot-on too. The smiling staff were on hand for everything we needed, right from the first “hello” through to “goodnight” (and even at the second “goodnight” when we had to return to retrieve a bag). We had an all-round fantastic experience at House of Ho – one which we hope to repeat very soon.

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