The week before Christmas: we could not have picked a merrier time to visit the new branch of House of Ho, a ‘modern Vietnamese’ brasserie in a townhouse on the corner of Percy and Charlotte Street. This Fitzrovia pan-Asian restaurant with French colonial décor used to be another pan-Asian brasserie Bam-bou, run by Caprice Holdings, probably with French colonial décor.
The service certainly remains Richard Caring standard: our smartly dressed waiter wearing a pan-Asian black uniform (Chinese, Vietnamese?) stood to attention like a soldier.
On arrival we were offered Vietnamese takes on cocktails such as Ho Long Bay: eau de vie, bitters, beer and lemon and a twist on other classics such as negroni (yawn), a Rumgroni: Bacardi, Aperol, Martini.
The wine list was short, nine wines, and sharp on the pocket: Cloudy Bay £72 a bottle.
The cooking: House of Ho eschews traditional clay pots, preferring a more scientific slow oven style so don’t expect vibrant Vietnamese, instead, very well executed modern Anglo-Vietnamese with other Asian dishes thrown in.
We started with small plates: delicious sea bass dumplings served artistically. King crab and crème fraîche croquettes: excellent, enough of the crustacean to give the parcels a meaty texture. Jasmine smoked chilli glazed rib: sweet, high-quality, tasty and generous in size.
We did not try the more Vietnamese dishes such as summer rolls. Instead, we tested the signature sharing dishes as directed by our waiter. It was global fare. The black Angus shaking beef, handrolled tender fillet, was very good: do you really need primo beef for a stir fry (£22)? The seabass in Vietnamese fermented plum sauce (saki) was perfect but again came at a cost (£30). Asian greens were superb too, especially the kai lan (Chinese broccoli).
We did try Vietnam’s national dish: the hot pot, Vietnamese greens and rice noodles, aka pho. A lot of king prawns but lacking umphh. It was conservative. The price wasn’t. Was it really £28?
We moved on to dessert (called Happy Endings, très amusant) and enjoyed a warm green tea fondant, passion fruit, and vanilla, which oozed gorgeous molten goop.
The gaff was packed, justifiably so. It is a very slick operation.
House of Ho – 1 Percy St, London, Fitzrovia W1T 1DW
Words Paul Dunn. Paul is a lifestyle and sports writer, you can catch him tweeting @twunnsy