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1 Percy Street
020 7323 9130
Following the closure of the Soho original, Fitzrovia is now home to The House of Ho’s unique spin on modern Vietnamese cooking. Long-time fans of Gilgamesh may recall chef/director Ian Pengelley’s penchant for all things pan-Asian, here tweaked to fit the Vietnamese brief – think miso-roasted stone bass pointed up with fermented plum sauce, or battered soft-shell crab on mounds of whole dried chillis (for decoration only, we hasten to add). Bowls of pho show real beefy depth, while more broadly inspired snow crab and scallop dumplings or ‘smoking’ sashimi of salmon and yellowtail seem wallet-busting against comparable efforts elsewhere. The colonial swish of plush green leather, patterned wallpaper and ceiling fans spans a warren of townhouse rooms perfect for private occasions, and the smart terrace is a people-watcher’s dream. Bottles of White Rabbit Riesling work a treat across the menu, while cocktails match the kitchen’s subtle creativity – ask the eager-to-please staff for a recommendation.
To celebrate the Year of the Woman, SquareMeal is running a series of interview profiles with top female chefs. Read here how Angela Hartnett made it to the top, launched her own group of restaurants and how she describes the secrets of her success.
1 Percy Street
020 7323 9130
Tottenham Court Road Tube Station 283m
Goodge Street Tube Station 350m
Contemporary Applied Arts 15m
Odeon Tottenham Court Road 113m
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 2
I ate here when it first opened and was disappointed with the food and shocked at the price. Two years on, I can’t say the fare fare’s any better.
I am lucky enough to live in Shoreditch on top of Little Vietnam which offers everything from the greasy spoon equivalent to fine dining Vietnamese style. I am familiar with the food and love it. Which makes The House of Ho’s offering all the harder to swallow. Literally. (And I understand that the British chef is going more pan Asian than pure play, but still).
My father and I opted to share some small plates: The salt and pepper squid was well executed, not greasy or over cooked and the summer rolls were fine, if only filled with unseasoned rice vermicelli and iceberg. The glazed spicy chicken wings, were indeed glazed with a cloying and sweet sauce, that was most definitely not spicy and were lukewarm at best. The bao – a now ubiquitous treat across our fair city – was doughy and the BBQ pulled pork was over cooked, along with what seem to be the accoutrements of Hoi Sin duck, as the flavour profile was the same. Thoroughly shameful.
I once again opted for a seafood pho, possibly a glutton for punishment, but when in Rome… Flavourless. Dull. Boring. I dumped soy and chilli sauce in to bring it to life and I had to ask the staff for coriander! My father’s fried noodles were so dry he resorted to a spoonful of my broth to make them moist.
Two beers and the bill topped a £100. Avoid. There are so many great Asian restaurants you can get more bang for your buck elsewhere.
Food + drink: 4
Located on the site of the former and much-loved Bam-Bou comes House of Ho. The website claims diners will experience the “sights, flavours and aromas” of Vietnam. This strikes me as a somewhat bold claim. Furthermore, even a quick glance at the menu would also seem to suggest that chef-director (a pretentious title if ever there were one) Ian Pengelley hasn’t fully been able to abandon the pan-Asian remit he had formerly at Gilgamesh. Although I have never been to Vietnam, I doubt there are few places in Ho Chi Minh City, let alone the outer regions of the country serving up spiced yellowtail sashimi with jalapenos or crispy squid with chilli & sea salt. Bottom-line, if you are actually trying to do something different, then do it properly, rather than just trying to come up with an on-trend menu that will appeal to as broad a swathe of Londoners as possible. Gripes to one side, the food itself was pretty good. My comrade and I enjoyed a beautifully presented and competently executed soft-shell crab to begin. It arrived on a massive plate of dried chillies and was accompanied by two piquant and ostensibly Vietnamese sauces that offset each other well. We followed this with arguably the best dish of the meal, an innovative pairing of crispy duck and watermelon in a salad. The cashews worked as a perfect foil in terms of texture and there was a subtle element of spice throughout. Mains (which we shared) were more pedestrian: a small portion of ‘shaking’ (read: flash-fried) beef was most notable for being small, while the lemongrass chicken was slightly too sticky and hence cloying. On the negative side – oh yes, there is more about which to gripe – service and price in particular stand out. With regard to the former, we had to endure and agonisingly painful wait before anyone would take our order and staff in general seemed fairly oblivious to customers’ needs. More egregiously, pricing was high, very high. £35 for a plate of eight piece of shaking beef? Seriously? Overall, the bill for two at lunch, with one beer each, a bottle of water and two espressos plus service topped £110. We were there for an hour – so not a cheap experience. Would I come back? Well only if in the area, after pan-Asian food, and ideally with someone else paying….
Food + drink: 3
...really miss Bam Bou!
Having eaten twice in the now titled Ho Modern Vietnamese, I was anxious to try the new flagship from Bobby Chinn. Accompanied by a strict vegetarian, it always makes life difficult in a restaurant with plates designed for sharing, but as luck would have it, we took advantage of the Square Meal set menu deal (£25 per head), which had a full vegetarian option and the rest for me.
The service is still undergoing teething troubles, no one offered to take our coats and they remained on the backs of our chairs throughout, the waitress seemed a little nervous and seemed to forget the basics such as bring a cocktail menu and the maitre d' (? Maybe head waiter) was a little over zealous. That being said, they did their best to be charming and their hearts were in the right place.
The set menu offered 3 starters and a main each. The steamed seafood dumpling was juicy and yielding, full of flavour, the pork vermicelli salad was incredibly tasty with lots of raw fresh vegetables to provide an interesting texture contrast to the pork and the prawn crispy spring roll was perfect, although I think that the slightly odd pairing of a peculiar banana-flavoured goo could have been forgone.
We both order the traditional signature dish of Pho for main, one veggie and the other seafood. Well. BORING! The chef had clearly forgotten to season anything. Driving us both to add salt (!), soy sauce and chilli to try to liven the thing up. The huge chunks of pak choi made for a very messy chomping and as for the seafood - a great big hunk of grilled salmon, two tiny baby squid and apparently a prawn - yes A prawn- but after much sifting for gold I gave up on that one. In fact, it was so dull that neither me nor my friend even attempted to finish it as it wasn't worth the effort. Considering that there is a now fairly ubiquitous chain eponymous upon this dish, the House of Ho should be outdoing these "fast food" outlets, but sadly not. They did seem to be mortified when they came to take the nearly full plates away and also very surprised. Maybe they had an off day or maybe no one has told them. But it was pretty terrible.
We had a beer and a cocktail each and the bill still came to £100 - on a set menu, so this is a restaurant that either needs to be on expenses or more for a special occassion. I don't mind spending lots of money on food, it's my vice, but this experience will not have me running back.
Having dined in Bam Bou for almost 20 years, this replacement is a true disappointment.
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