Ho’s Chinese, Leeds – Restaurant Review
Ho’s Chinese, Leeds
by Matt Callard
It’s been a long time since a Chinese restaurant offered anything other than an enormous menu and heartburn – and so familiar are diners with the rituals of Chinese cuisine it’s hard to feel excited at the prospect of yet another round of Prawn Toast and Dim Sum and Szechwan-style this-and-that.
So why is Ho’s, a two floor, almost four-year-old eaterie on Vicar Lane creating gentle waves on the Leeds foodie scene? Well, there are two answers: good, genuinely authentic food and – more importantly – a Chinese bakery on the lower floor run by a master baker with a flamboyant eye and a wonderful line in Far Eastern pastries, sweets and savouries. So, at last, another good reason to go Oriental and, phew, a fresh angle for us critics.
First things first, however – the menu is mind-bogglingly huge. Why is this such an unnecessarily common feature in Chinese restaurants? Am I alone in wishing to see the restaurant’s best 20 or so dishes and nothing else? Am I the only one flummoxed by a doorstop menu bulging with every conceivable meat and veg combo this side of Shanghai?
Oh well, we ordered Dim Sum anyway and it was, nevertheless, mightily impressive. The dumplings were moist, steaming and fresh. A juicy collection bulging with shrimp and pork and beef and herbs and spices. Perfectly seasoned and complemented by a trio of delicious sauces. Dim sum is the acid test for Chinese restaurants. Get it this good and you know you’re in for a treat.
Mains came thick and fast. A roasted duck, sliced as generously as the Chinese prefer. It leaned on some tasty, ultra-thin noodles. Then, the star of the show, a sublime bean curd dish, oozing all sorts of complex flavours and topped with slices of king prawn.
Eschewing the desserts we instead took a trip downstairs to the bakery. Everything here is baked on site and the smell alone is enough to rekindle any sated appetites. We gave in to our sweet cravings with an indulgent, strawberry-topped fancy and an impossibly light sweet pastry. Then bought a few extras to take home with us for good measure.
Yes, the restaurant is good but, for us, the bakery is the real key to the venture’s ongoing success. If Ho’s can find a way to attract the passing coffee crowd away from their overpriced Starbucks and into their very own pastry paradise, then they might just have an original Far Eastern pot of gold in their hands.
Ho’s Restaurant, 115, Vicar Lane, Leeds, LS1 6PJ
Editor’s Update: Since this article was written, Ho’s has closed down, as reported here in the Yorkshire Evening Post