A Vietnamese Feast in Fitzrovia at the House of Ho:
Vietnamese food is one of my favourites, so I was pleased to be invited by the House of Ho to experience its new menu and cuisine in its new premises in the heart of Fitzrovia. The original House of Ho restaurant in Soho is still there, but has been renamed the Ho Modern Vietnamese and has kept its casual small table appeal. The House of Ho on Percy Street, is all new, with a new chef, new menu and a whole new dining experience that is slightly more formal and aimed at larger groups.
The venue was originally a four storey townhouse, with each floor now home to a private and individually designed dining area.
The top floor has a nicely sized private bar and drinking/chatting area. The floor below has three separate private dining rooms including this well-appointed room laid out for 8 diners, with a gorgeous fireplace that could almost seem like you were in a London house.
There is an open ground floor restaurant as well as a nicely stocked wine room and there’s more public dining space on the second floor. We were taken to one of the third-floor private dining rooms, a perfect size for the 12 or so blogging friends with me. The large circular table let us all chat without shouting, and was social enough to allow dishes to be passed around easily. We started with a small cup of Nanbu Bijin, Tokubetsu Junmai, or Vietnamese Saki as it was described and were asked to make a wish and give thanks, in true Vietnamese family tradition. Then the food was served.
One of the signature dishes for the House of Ho is the ‘shaking’ beef made with 30-day aged Aberdeen Angus in a soy sauce. The grill is shaken (so they say) as the beef is seared, hence the name. This didn’t look like a large platter but the intensity of the beef made each mouthful very filling, and eating it in isolation of any sources really brought out the flavours. If you only had this dish you would be happy.
No Asian meal is complete without dim sum, and the House of Ho delivered a really fine example of their speciality seabass dim sum parcels. Wrapped in almost transparently thin casing, they were delicate, and with just a slight drizzle of soy sauce, they highlighted the delicate flavour of the fish much better than you would have expected. Sadly my picture does not do this dish justice, but I had to grab it quickly before they all went!
A bowl of crispy squid with a light tempura batter arrived, lightly drizzled with garlic and onion giving the batter an aromatic side to it. The squid came with a sweet chilli dipping sauce which had a nice sharpness without any chilli burn.
Vietnamese broccoli was used as a regular ‘green’ side with the meal, and its fun look, bright colour and clean crunchy taste definitely worked alongside both the meat and the fish dishes.
Some dishes photograph as good as they taste, and the Chilean Seabass with Vietnamese fermented plum sauce was a perfect example of this. Lots of colour, and flavours, the fish broke apart in large flakes making it easy to share.
The huge bowl of chillies topped with soft shelled crab was an impressive dish, drawing considerable awe from all around the table. Again, a great dish for sharing but rather too big to be easily passed around. Needless to say it tasted so good it wasn’t passed as fast as it should have been!
The duck and watermelon seemed an odd combination but worked amazingly well. The perfect cubes of watermelon, cut from the centre had all the flavour and ripeness you could want, which cleansed the palette for each mouthful of duck. This was my favourite dish, and it acted as a perfect separator between the meat and the upcoming fish dishes.
There was matched wines with the meal, with the further option of matched white or matched red to please your inherent tastes as well as pairing with the Vietnamese food. The wine waiter was always there when you needed him, and you never had an empty glass.
Given the vast amount of food we were given, we were still tempted to try the desserts.
The crumble, with the smoothest chocolate icecream I have ever tasted, might not have seemed Vietnamese enough for some diners. So the obvious solution was to try the passion fruit and ice cream.
The new head Chef at the House of Ho is Ian Pengelley, and he dropped in to talk to us. He was clearly proud of what he and his team have accomplished in this new House of Ho restaurant and explained how he had made up some of the dishes to reflect the clarity of the Vietnamese food styles along with the freshest sourced ingredients. Regular daily shipments of ingredients were brought in from Vietnam and matched by the best locally sourced meat and fish to deliver the finest Vietnamese food experience. It clearly works as everybody was praising the food, and I only hope that some of the photos here reflect that.
The House of Ho Percy Street is best suited for larger groups of people, ideally a group of friends who value the discussion around a table as much as the food. It worked so well for our group that I can only hope to go back and repeat the experience some time.
House of Ho
1 Percy Street
020 7323 9130