Situated on a 3000 sq.ft site in Old Compton Street, The House of Ho will open this autumn, offering a mix of small plates and family-style meals. The menu will be based on Chinn’s experiences in Vietnam, having spent 18 years in the Southeast Asian country.
“I want to give Londoners a taste of the Vietnamese dining experience,” Chinn told BigHospitality. “Not only the dishes, but how it’s cooked, the way it’s presented and the atmosphere and environment in which it’s served.
“I’ve eaten at many of the Vietnamese restaurants here and I have to say that the food is pretty good. Vietnamese food is democratic in the sense that it’s cooked by the people for the people - that’s exactly what London has.
“But I’ve also found a lot of dishes that aren’t on the menu here that I feel we can do well. I learnt about Vietnamese food mostly in the north, where the flavours are generally bolder. We will be mixing that with a few southern dishes, adding a sprinkle of some new ideas.”
Average prices at the 90-cover restaurant will be between £20 and £30 a head. Chinn, who was born in New Zealand to a Chinese mother and Egyptian father, will now spend most of his time in London, with some TV work lined up and hopes to expand his restaurant concept in the capital. The chef’s two restaurants, in Saigon and Hanoi, will continue to operate as normal.
“I’ve been looking at the UK for eight years, as I built up the brand in Vietnam,” Chinn added. “But I didn’t find the right opportunity and there was no real rush. The investors were really keen on this place; Vietnamese restaurants are starting to make waves internationally - it’s light, healthy, gluten-free, easy to make and very adaptable.
“Eighty thousand UK residents visit Vietnam each year, growing at around 20 per cent. I want to create an environment where that same food can be consumed in a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere in London.
“Seeing the recent developments of Peruvian cuisine here in the capital, it’s clear that people are hunting for new flavours and experiences. I think Vietnam definitely offers that.”
Chinn was educated in England and lived the US for several years, where he developed his love for cooking and travelled the world. His friend, American chef and author Anthony Bourdain, said: “Bobby’s an interesting man – if there’s a true international man of mystery, it’s probably Bobby Chinn. He’s kind of like Rick in Casablanca – the man knows his stuff.”
The House of Ho will open on the former site of Med Kitchen at 55-59 Old Compton Street in October/November.