Confucius say: don’t buy into the hype, before first checking Qype.
The next restaurant’s opening received mixed reviews on Yelp and without any definitive must-goes or must-avoid recommendations, I thought I’d drag M along to try our luck at getting into the always fully booked impenetrable House of Ho. Surprisingly we managed to secure a table for an hour and a half. No problem, we get in we get out…or so we thought.
For the hour and a half that followed, no one could save the melee of waiter vs plates, waiter vs customers that took place on the restaurant floor. Whatever was happening over there, I’d like to have a moment of silence for the beloved knives, plates and face that were lost on the night. Other emotions also in the mix included confusion, awkwardness and the low-key resentment of having to scurry through a fire exit.
Between the flying arms and legs, waitresses coaxing us to buy more drinks and getting less than bargained for, I began to wonder if this was what Stringfellows must feel like. Ho hum.
So very little. Anyone who’s looking to stick to their new years goals can appear to be eating without actually eating.
I’ve seen snapshots of this dish on twitter, so I followed in suite of the herd and ordered my very own to try. The presentation was interesting, a level of art I have not yet reached to enjoy the overexposed insides of a coconut, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The ceviche was pretty decent, light in dressing with a zing from lime and plenty of mangosteins to go around. Overall feeling = expensive prawn cocktail.
Mangostein Ceviche £9
Chicken Wings £6
The chicken wings were grilled. Nothing I want to go to town about. It was soft with a hint of char from the heat, but something crucial was missing, like the trust and commitment of sauce to wings. The bbq-type sauce was later found on cheaters with the cucumber salad pooled in the most unfortunate of places underneath the wings, accomplishing absolutely nothing.
For the next two dishes, their sizes were identical to the starters but would you believe it if I told you they are mains for double the price.
Chicken Curry £9
Moving onto my favourite dish of the night the Chicken Curry, there were 3 interesting elements that caught my eye:
The sauce: M could not for the life distinguish this from the one she makes at home using Golden Curry, and she is quite the one when it comes to DIY curry. Golden Curry is the ultimate underrated supermarket hero, we use it to liven up pork, chicken, beef and even the most drabbest of stir fries. Ho has found inspiration from the sauces of the world aisle.
The little green balls: what we thought were peas turned out to be Chinese aubergines. Rock solid, sour balls filled with seeds. Yes China, keep exporting this exotic stuff to the rest of the world so we can enhance our soft power. Excellent.
The potato chunks: hard.
Golden Curry is the best. Buy it here (CLICK). No promo.
Pork Belly £11
Look at this pork belly and half an egg for £11, is it inexcusable that they tried to bulk out the dish with half an egg? The pork wasn’t bad but very similar to the Chairman’s version (CLICK) with a crispier skin helped by a ratio of more than 95% fat and 5% meat. What I didn’t enjoy was the adaptation of a brilliant dish bombed by peppercorns. I’m sure the peppercorns didn’t even want to be there either, they ruined the crunch of the caramelised skin by being in and around everything and simultaneously ruining the effortless enjoyment of not having to pick it off every 2 seconds.
I didn’t insert the picture of rice for £2.50 (because I can’t imagine how exciting that must be to look at) was not jasmine just boiled. £2.50 for a few spoonfuls, terrible.
We felt numb as they brought food from other tables, hurried us to order but for the most part just an eternity of waiting for it to arrive.
The service did calm down after the initial persistent heckling to get more drinks (surely twice in 5 minutes was too much?). There were smiles all around towards the middle, but things took a turn for the awkward when our new waiter fled to the manager every time we wanted to ask him something. It all dragged on for so long… switching between card and cash payments and taking even longer to bring back the change.
As packed as the waiters seemed to be on their flight path, no one had 2 seconds to point us in the direction of the main exit when we were evidently struggling circling the reception area to leave. So in the event of an emergency, we left through the fire exit.
At the very end I’m confused at the identity of House of Ho, call it authentic but authentic has the bar raised by the other vietnamese restaurants in the same area with a lot cheaper price tags. Call it creative but… I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, I can’t go through the curry powder or the peppercorns again.