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Let's Do Lunch! at Ho's Bar and Restaurant

16 October 2015
Let's Do Lunch! at Ho's Bar and Restaurant
I have just got back from a few days in Riga, Latvia. I went for no other reason than I had never been there before. Naturally I had to try the food which, to be honest, I found a little bland. The produce is really fresh but there is an absence of spices to which we, in the UK, have now become accustomed.

The national dish is grey peas with lard. Luckily the lard part is cubed bacon which we know as lardons. The peas are black rather than grey and the first couple of spoonfuls are quite nice but a whole bowlful gets a bit tedious. The main course was pork and vegetables which was tasty enough. The following day I went to a bar and I ordered a couple of dishes which I had seen in several other restaurants, the starter was perch salad, the fish part had an earthy taste, and several small bones but was topped by a fried egg and tomato both of which were cold, a bit strange but having said that it was very palatable. For main course I summoned up all of my courage and had sliced bull’s testicles in a cream sauce, yes, you read that right. When I go abroad I have no problem in eating food which I don’t see on menus here. After all that is half the adventure. My thinking is that no restaurant in the world would put anything poisonous on its menu so it isn’t going to kill me whatever I have. I suppose that with the bull’s testicles there could be a problem if you are allergic to nuts! The texture of the meat is like that of spam but there is very little taste; presumably that is what the sauce is for. One thing that struck me about these two traditional dinners was that both courses arrived at the same time. The perch salad and bull’s bits was no problem as the salad was cold anyway but with the peas and pork they were both hot so I had to alternate which means that dinner is rushed and not something to last all evening.

Before I get the holiday snaps out I had better give you this week’s review. The reason I have told you about my trip, other than to slip in my nut allergy joke, is that there are similarities between the Latvian food and my lunch at Ho’s. I came across the restaurant whilst walking on Vicar Lane and looking for somewhere to eat. I could see through the window that all of the customers were of far eastern origin which I always find a good indicator of the quality of a Chinese restaurant. When entered I was shown to my table and presented with the main menu and a special lunch one. The main menu is a weighty tome which had many interesting dishes whereas the lunch menu was a single sheet but because of the name of this item I obviously chose to order from that one. There are two courses for a set price of £7.90 and I also ordered a pot of China tea at £1.00. For a starter I ordered hot and sour soup and for main course chicken chow mein with crispy noodles. In a hark back to Latvia the waitress asked if I would like both courses to be served at the same time. I declined but at least here I got the choice. The hot and sour soup certainly lived up to its name but not only was it bursting with the flavour of chillies and various other spices; it also contained shrimps which had enough flavour to compete and give the soup a wonderfully fishy taste. The chow mein, on the other hand, was also a Latvian throwback in that it was very bland. I suppose it had a lot to live up to after the soup but even so it was a throwback to the early Chinese restaurants of the fifties.

Let's Do Lunch! at Ho's - Article 1

As Chinese restaurants go I imagine that this is as good as any but I suggest that you either order from the main menu, as everyone else seemed to be doing, or choose one of the other main course options on the lunch menu of which there were about a dozen.

Mange toutes,

Stan Graham

Stan is a freelance food journalist who writes 'Let's do Lunch!' restaurant reviews for Leeds Living's eat/drink section.