When I booked The House of Ho for my birthday, I got some worrying looks. ‘I know you’re newly single S, but is this really the route to happiness?’. Turns out it was, so despite their concerns, my friends dutifully followed me to dark, debaucherous Soho.
If this was the 70s, my post would be very different, more exciting and – let’s face it – confined to a diary as the wondrous internet was still a figment of TimBL’s imagination . But as it’s 2014, I will focus on what The House of Ho really is – a relatively new Vietnamese restaurant full of lively Londoners of all ages, gender and sexual orientation.
We kicked off dinner with a bottle of Prosecco and a few dishes from the ‘Light & Raw’ section of the menu. Crab Pomelo Salad (£7) was, fittingly, ‘light’, refreshing and full of texture, and Duck Pho Cuon Rice Noodle Rolls (£5.50) were a lot like cold Dim Sum…in a good way.
The biggest ‘Light & Raw’ treat was Spicy Salmon Tartare (£7), which was topped with a raw quail’s egg yolk and encircled by chopped pistachio, Shiso (an Asian herb) and Jicama (a type of yam). Our waiter stopped us eating until we’d mixed all ingredients together into one, mushy lump. Turns out that lump was pretty damn good, especially when scooped with a cracker or two.
Of the ‘Hot & Grilled’, the BBQ Baby Back Ribs (£6) felt too heavy next to the other, more delicate dishes, whereas bland Smokey Aubergine (£6) could have used some spicing up.
‘Ho’s Dishes’ were much better – The ‘Shaking Beef’ was wonderfully succulent (£14) and Lemongrass Monkfish balanced sweet, sour and meaty fishiness, despite being a little chewy.
I think we picked the best side (thank you Mr Waiter) as Morning Glory (Water Spinach at £4) was just as satisfying as its meatier counterparts, making us vow to replicate the dish at home.
My friends’ mischievous faces gave pudding away – Molten Maru Chocolate (£6.50) with ice cream, a candle, Happy Birthday written in sauce and a rousing chorus of singers. It was eaten with relish, just as Birthday cake should be.
The House of Ho combined interesting, delicate food with good prices and a fun, buzzing atmosphere, making it a perfect birthday treat and a worthy recipient of a LLE Rating of 7 / 10.
House of Ho, 55-59 Old Compton Street, Soho, London W1D 6HW