HUŎ is a neighbourhood, Asian restaurant. By which I mean, it has a menu that skips around some of the more crowd-pleasing, greatest hits of Asian cooking, with a particular focus on Chinese, Thai, Malay and Singaporean dishes. And by which I mean if you can’t find something you like here, then you’re probably not ready to dine out anywhere.
Set just off the Fulham Road, in that bit of SW10 referred to as Chelsea Beach – a reference I’d not heard since the 1980s until I read the HUŎ website – there is, appropriately enough, a distinct seaside feel to the restaurant. Bleached timber, sandy hues, a neat (Covid-friendly) outdoor terrace with a vaguely nautical feel… There are no visual clues – or cliches – to the cuisine, which is quite refreshing. On this sunny July lunchtime, it just feels like a mini-holiday, like a side street in a European coastal resort. And, in these Covid-y times, anything that feels like an escape from Badly Run Plague Island is to be encouraged, right?
Food is… well, as mentioned, Asia’s greatest hits. As such, and in the company of a vegetarian, it was easy – and tasty – to ignore the meat and fish and go purely plant-based. I know, right? Get me and my misguided millennial catchphrases. Vegetable lettuce wraps were a solid (if shirt threatening) start, ditto the dumplings, asparagus with black bean and chilli, and vegetable spring rolls. Things that were meant to be crispy were, the asparagus maintained the requisite bite, chillies were suitably vibrant and generously scattered…. Solid cooking across the board, frankly.
That theme continued into the mains. There is, perhaps, a slight over reliance on tofu as the vegetarian / vegan alternative in some of the dishes – a little mixed veg might provide a little more variety – but there’s a strong selection of pure vegetable dishes anyway and the tofu we have, in a Thai green curry, and the spicy tofu with green beans, has good texture. Sauces have bite, and variety, miso aubergine – always a winning combination – makes a satisfying side dish.
Service is friendly, efficient and knowledgeable. There is a cocktail list which looks interesting but the day screamed Aperol Spritz and crisp whites so we went Aperol and crisp whites, from a solid wine list of – you guessed it – crowd-pleasing greatest hits, with eight whites and six reds available by the glass and half bottle.
The dessert menu is small but perfectly formed. A chocolate coolant. A Yuzu citrus cheesecake. I mean, you just would, wouldn’t you? But, as it happens, we didn’t, plumping instead for the old school joys of toffee banana fritters. These came coated in the sort of “stained glass” batter you’d find on the best Korean fried chicken which, once shattered, revealed the molten banana napalm within. Tasty once they’d cooled down, mind you.
There’s nothing particularly big or clever or novel at Huo, but that’s really not a complaint. Stumble across it or be fortunate enough to have it as a local and you’ll find much to enjoy: a sensibly priced menu of well-cooked, recognisable classics. Sometimes – cough – familiarity breeds content.
9 Park Walk