Yo Ho Ho | One Dish Wonders at The House of Ho, 55-59 Old Compton Street, Soho, London W1D 6HW
Before I visited The House of Ho I read a review on 60secondreviews.com which summed up this Vietnamese restaurant as ‘something different. some of it excellent, some of it pricey, some of it… odd.’ The accompanying video review goes into more depth. Although baffling at the time, that short description was pretty bang on, it is odd, but good odd. We were there to try the One Dish Wonders, designed for lunchtime with the intention of getting you in and out in twenty minutes.
However, we were in the restaurant for an hour, luckily this wasn’t a work lunch break (we work too all the way over in SE1, too far to venture into Soho). It was my birthday day off so I had the luxury of the whole afternoon to while away in central London with my sister. The fact it took longer than the suggested time can probably be blamed on both parties – us girls were busy chatting and opening gifts.
From what we could see (I massively failed by not checking out the toilet and therefore the rest of the place) it was pretty low-key – simple decor of oak floors and bamboo timber tables, with subdued lighting. A bit of a surprise considering New Zealand-born chef and owner Bobby Chinn‘s personality. He was there schmoozing the customers and working the room, introducing himself to every diner. Bobby’s big in Vietnam where he lived for eighteen years, working in renowned restaurants in Hanoi and Saigon. He strikes me as someone with a short attention span – he even hosted the World Café TV show on the Discovery Channel, did the odd stint as a stand-up comic and worked the New York Stock Exchange, what a CV!
As it was a rare day of no work we decided to have a cocktail, unfortunately the drink we both had our eye on, the Rosy-cheek martini was out of the question due to a lack of ingredients. Instead I chose the fruity almost smoothie-like Rum Yum Dragon £9.50 (probably harder to say after a couple). My sister opted for the coconut rimmed spicy ‘Ho’ rny Devil £8 (what else?) – of which a few large glugs went all over the table as the apologetic waitress delivered them.
My first thought when our food arrived was how unique it looked, yet a fairly small portion for the price. My Bún Bo £9.50 had intrigued me on the menu by being described as half soup, half salad. It really was just that, full of texture with a fragrant and gentle broth at the bottom layered with slithers of beef. I loved the crispy shallots sprinkled at the top and fresh mint floating in the puddle of broth at the bottom, a real onslaught of flavours. Once finished I realised the portion size was actually perfect.
My sister was only ever going to go for the Lobster cellophane noodles £11.50 – she’s a lobster and champagne kind of girl, the polar opposite of me. She loved her dish, declaring the broth amazing and that she could really taste the tender sake steamed lobster. We completed the Bobby theme by heading to Bob Bob Ricard for dessert, where she proceeded to buy a glass of bubbly stuff for £30. Incomprehensible to me, that could get me (almost) three Rhubarb G&Ts!
Since hearing about the Apple-smoked pork belly on the regular menu, I have added The House of Ho to the ‘return to list’ – I need a holiday in London…
55-59 Old Compton Street, Soho, London W1D 6HW
Telephone: 020-7287 0770;
Nearest station: Leicester Square (4 mins walk)
One Dish Wonders are available from 12pm-5pm Monday to Saturday.
We ate at The House of Ho as their guests, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.