The House of Ho (Vietnamese) – LondonHALAL STATUS House of Ho have confirmed that all chicken is Halal with no risk of cross-contamination with any pork on the menu.
The House of Ho’s distinct lime-green awnings and black logo centralised against an otherwise all-white four-storey building, are clearly visible driving down Charlotte Street towards Percy Street, particularly in the evening with the bright trough lights on.
Making your way towards the dining area down a short, narrow corridor, you can’t help but note the vestiges of the hotel that must have existed here before.
With white also dominating the softly lit dining room’s colour scheme, there’s large mirrors adorning the walls, two black ceiling fans, green upholstery, and decor that’s distinctly western-oriented.
Having opened in December of last year, The House of Ho happens to be one of the few Vietnamese restaurants in London that generously caters for Muslims with a menu that offers a healthy variety of Halal chicken dishes.
Add to that the fish dishes too (NOTE: the dumplings contain pork, while the Chilean Sea Bass is marinated in “fermented plum sauce”), and we felt compelled to visit, if only to see for ourselves their impressive four-themed floors.
With the ground floor meant for relaxed brassiere style dining, the bar is located entirely separately on the first floor, the private dining rooms – viz. Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and The Mirror Room – on the second, and an additional dining area on the third.
The inclusion of lemongrass to lemonade certainly made the first item we sampled an interesting one. With a sour kick to it, this was a decent take on a classic.
As for the cool and refreshing Haiphong Summer, then in spite of the passionfruit dominating over the mango, the drink itself was fairly well balanced, with a lychee-like aftertaste to it.
The NHA Trang Breeze was different and quite memorable too given how, as you make your way through the layers of fruit, the flavours gradually change from an orange- to a more berry-type taste.
A melody of tastes and textures along with aromatic bursts of flavour are what truly defined this tremendous chicken salad.
What we had here was soft, tender chicken coupled with the anaseed covered salad leaves, the fresh coriander, the crunch of the shredeed red cabbage, and the sweetness of the carrots, that made this a must have dish.
Great attempt, albeit slightly disconnected, at an eye catching presentation served, as this Soft Shell Crab was, in a bowl of red chillis.
The soft crabs were encased in an airy, dry batter that remained nice and crispy.
The dish itself came with two sauces: sweet chilli and soya.
In our opinion, the crabs went best with the sour vinegariness of the latter.
But, while these were slightly on the expensive side (it’s crab after all), it was a good portion for something that’s supposed to be a ‘small bite’.
This too was presented with the aforementioned sweet chilli sauce whose heat managed to cleverly dissipate the intense smoky taste of these beautifully crispy and delightfully succulent cubes of chicken.
Just look at that attractive pink flesh of a perfectly cooked chicken!
What really added to the character of this dish was the simple addition of tiny, yet strongly flavoured garlic chips, that we just couldn’t get enough of.
Mixed feelings with this Lemongrass Chicken.
While we all agreed that the lemongrass failed to come through, an impasse was reached over the strength of the flavour of its marination, with one Lion thoroughly enjoying its sweet and strong smoky flavour, and the others deeming it slightly too overpowering.
In any case, don’t be shy in thoroughly basing these chicken nuggets, with their beautifully crunchy-cum-caramelised exterior, in all that sauce resting at the bottom of the bowl.
A Pho is “a traditional noodle soup served with steaming home made broth and special rice noodles topped with your choice of meat, fish or veg, [and] served with condiments”, in this case, the three sauces: chilli, wasabi and soya, along with bean sprouts and a segment of lime.
In other words, have fun using the condiments provided to build up the flavours and textures of your bowl of Pho to your desired taste. As an example, if you want your broth to be fiery, then you’ll want to add a lot more chilli than the other two.
Our advice would be: start off slowly and gradually build up to your desired taste. As they say, you can add an ingredient, but very rarely can you remove it.
The broth for both the chicken and seafood was identical. Likewise, the cooking of the chicken and the seafood was spot on, and the noodles beautifully soft.
As an additional tip, we also found that a good squeeze of lime was an effective remedy at cutting through a sauce that’s accidentally turned out a little too strong.
Having said that though, the entire concept, though experimental for any novice, is immensely enjoyable and, more importantly, very tasty too.
In fact, a broth like this, that’s been properly made up, would probably be a great tonic for any nasal congestion.
Some very good bowls of, what were essentially, egg fried rice.
While the peas had a bite to them and the prawns being firm, the darker bowl on the right had a more smoky aftertaste.
SUSHI & SASHIMI
The dramatic smoking effect of the dry ice played its part in successfully drawing gasps of delight from onlookers as this beautifully presented platter, with its two types of sushi rolls, sashimis and tartares, was smartly set before us.
Both rolls were well made with Mr Chang delivering a very delicate hit of wasabi before coming through with a sour, almost rice like aftertaste.
As for the Inside Out Salmon Roll, then although the roe popped in our mouths as expected, and despite having a good crunch to it, we felt it was far too salty for our collective liking.
And while the Yellowtail Sashimi was as soft and delicate as you can imagine with a dab of soya sauce adding that touch of saltiness, the Salmon Sashimi, on the otherhand, was altogether different with a delicate sweet-sour undertone.
Finally, the tartares, it should be noted, are only part of the platter and, thus, do not appear on the à la Carte menu.
In any case, the Yellowtail Tartare was far more intense in flavour than its mildly pickled Salmon counterpart, with both meant to be eaten with the crispy sesame seed papadums.
Of course, don’t forget to cleanse your palate appropriately with the slithers of ginger.
The Royal Hué Sharing Dessert Platter is an assortment of desserts again very well presented in a large bowl filled with crushed ice.
Were these sorbets ever so smooth or what? Zero crystalisation here!
Granted, the weakest of the three was the coconut, but that didn’t really matter given its divinely smooth and near-creamy texture.
And though passionfruit was nice and strong, it’s the mango that won our hearts on account of its strength of flavour
Didn’t quite have the rise of a successfully made fondant, and thus wasn’t as airy as it could have been.
Yet, it certainly had an extremely liquidy interior.
The clever thing, however, was, by design or otherwise, that since it was served on ice, the liquid quickly thickened enough to make the whole pudding a far more satsifying eat.
And taste-wise, it was pretty good – not too sweet, with the green tea coming through gently.
Sadly, vanilla ice cream wasn’t available on the day, which was a pity since it would probably have gone nicely with this.
With a nutty, toffee-like crumble and caramlised bananas underneath, this was a lovely little pudding pot.
And if we were to nit-pick, then perhaps the crumble lacked a certain crunch being, as it was, a little too crumbly.
However, we did find that in place of the unavailable ice cream, the subtle coconut sorbet went really well in countering its overall sweetness.
£14 for some slices of fruit and pomegranate seeds?!
If you’re health conscious, then fine; otherwise, what’s the point in serving such a lazy dessert?
TEAS & COFFEES
And this coffee rounded off an intriguing evening.
Via a traditional Vietnamese setup, the idea here was to allow the coffee to distil from the top container into the cup below which contained condensed milk. Once distilled, commence stirring before slowly savouring a strong bitter-sweet finale to a very interesting and enjoyable review.
- YES/ YES
- CHILD SEATING
- 10-20% LOCAL HOTEL DISCOUNTS
- OPEN TABLE
Kudos also to those behind this venture for being kind enough to offer Halal chicken to London's large Muslim community. There aren't many quality Vietnamese eateries that do, and as such, we should especially recognise those that do. This is, indeed, a restaurant which, despite having been open only two months, is doing Vietnamese cuisine proud. Their service was not only impeccable, but their concern and attention towards our Halal requirements quite endearing.
There were a number of dishes served here that we enjoyed enough to warrant a definite return. Having said that though, not everything blew us away vis-à-vis taste.
However, there's enough chicken dishes here for us to certainly recommend a visit. We only hope that The House of Ho further expand their Halal menu sometime very soon to include other selections of meat (hint hint - duck!).
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