Looking for inspiration for a Sunday lunch is Soho is like shooting fish in a barrel.
There’s tons of it.
We’d been impressed greatly by celebrity Vietnamese chief Bobby Chinn on Saturday Kitchen so we looked up his new London restaurant The House of Ho on Old Compton Street, and yes it made us chuckle too with its cheeky reference to Soho’s past —and present—whilst nodding to Vietnam at the same time. Unusually we were able to make a reservation (many trendy gaffs in London won’t take bookings which irks me) and a plan was set.
Chinn has cooked in Hanoi for the last ten years so we were excited to see what he might get up to in one of the most vibrant food cultures in the world. The style of cooking is a mix of Vietnamese street food with other influences…French, Chinese, Thai—I guess Vietnam is one of those countries that takes on board lots of influences due to its history and location.
The style is tapas with small plates and perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon lunch catching up with friends. The flavours are bright, rich, comforting, surprising, familiar in fact they run the whole culinary gamut and it’s an exciting experience. Prices are pretty sensible as it’s right in the middle of Soho where competition for custom is fierce. Booze prices are good too but you can go nuts if you want to.
We put ourselves in the very capable hands of our waitress who advised knowledgeably on what we should order and if you go, I’d recommend you to do the same. The menu is quite simple but there are some dishes that you shouldn’t miss and this is one of those restaurants where lack of familiarity led us to a sublime journey of flavours and textures.
First up coconut with monkfish ceviche. Crisp, fresh and sweet and the coconut cut up afterwards was a revelation, moist and juicy.
Signature grilled aubergine with crispy shallots was a slippery and crunchy joy followed by ‘shaking beef’ fillet seared quickly so the outside is charred and inside pretty much raw. I could have eaten my own body weight of it, after which I would probably shake too.
The pork in the dish above had been cooked for 6 days. It tasted seriously good, the most umami thing I’ve ever tasted, melting in the mouth with a deep, deep, deep flavour. Oh yes it had an egg on and some chilli. Bonus.
A crab salad was ordered to keep Mrs D happy and also some chicken wings to fill up the boys. The salad was subtle and gentle whilst the chicken wings smashed the front door down.
Salmon tartare was a bit of a let down after all the pyrotechnics to be honest but if we’d had that first we would have probably loved it. The wine kept flowing thanks to Gwil ordering a new bottle every 10 minutes and we rounded off a rather fabulous long lunch by sitting by the window watching the colourful world of Soho go by.
Finally, here’s our good friend Gwil with Julie, both looking quite content after vast quantities of wine and top-notch Vietnamese tucker, all thanks to House of Ho.