By Katie Wilson
Tucked away in a west London side street, known to locals as ‘Chelsea Beach’, you’ll find HUO restaurant.
This slick new dining spot is the latest venture from the team behind Notting Hill institution, ULI.
Like its big sister venue, HUO serves up ‘clean Asian cooking’ with a menu that showcases Chinese and Southeast cuisine made entirely from scratch.
It might be off Fulham Road, but sitting at a table in HUO restaurant feels like you could be on the Miami waterfront, minus the water and beaming sun unfortunately.
Outside there is space for alfresco dining when the weather is nice. Inside the decor is a nod to the ‘beach’ stretch of town HUO sits in.
The space is light and airy, with driftwood coloured tables and booths, and an impressive white timber raft ceiling which is sure to become an Instagram backdrop.
Care has been taken over the original artwork on the walls, sourced from Saatchi Art.
Our favourite is three images of a dancer striking a series of poses against a blue background, which your eye is instantly drawn to as you enter the restaurant.
We visit on a Sunday afternoon and are immediately greeted by the friendly staff, who are quick to seat us at a table in the middle of the restaurant so we can see all the action.
The signature cocktail list is tempting with a Lychee Martini, Japanese Bellini and an Asian Negroni on the menu, but we’re being good so opt for soft drinks instead.
If you’re visiting at night when there is a more of a bar vibe, HUO also has a selection of Japanese whiskies, sake and craft beers to try.
As we peruse the menu, we order some Thai Lobster Crackers (£4) which come in a bowl I didn’t think we would get through – but get through we did!
This is followed by the Crispy Calamari (£9) in such a nice light batter it’s some of the best I’ve tasted. The fluffy Dim Sum Prawn Dumplings (4 for £7) arrive perfectly cooked and don’t last long on our plates.
Perhaps we don’t need the Crispy Aromatic Quarter Duck (£16) to share before our main meals. But it is delicious and we like how it is carved at the table.
The star starter took us by surprise – and is one for the veggies. Definitely order the Asparagus with Black Bean, Chilli and Ginger (£9). It even works as a side dish.
After a breather, it was on to the mains. Some of the pricier dishes include the Triple-cooked Dover Sole (£32) and the Pan-fried Teriyaki Black Cod (£35).
As we were there for lunch, we opted for the lighter Thai Sea Bass Fillet, steamed with Chilli and Lemongrass (£17), and the Spicy Mince Pork with Green Beans (£13).
For us, the mince pork was the winner. The green beans tasted so fresh and crunchy I could have eaten an entire bowl to myself – but the concept at HUO is all about sharing food.
Other dishes on the menu, which are really reasonably priced under the £15 mark, are Thai Curries, Spicy Soft Shell Crab Salad, Crispy Shredded Beef and Pad Thai.
If you’re not a meat eater or have any specific dietary requirements, the HUO team pride themselves on being able to offer alternative dishes, which is a big plus for any restaurant.
And those feeling adventurous when they visit can play ‘restaurant roulette’ and let the staff choose their meal for them.
‘Don’t look at the menu, tell us how hungry you are, what you don’t eat, and how spicy you like your food, and we’ll order for you,’ the website says.
Opening a restaurant during lockdown is a risky move, but three weeks in, HUO seem to be pulling it off. This will be one Chelsea locals add to their little black book of regular haunts in no time.
Best for: Lunch/casual dining, cocktails, catch ups with friends
HUO, at 9 Park Walk, Chelsea, is open Monday to Saturday 12pm until midnight and 12pm until 11pm on Sundays
Prices start at £7 for a starter and £11 for a main. Cocktails start from £12.