6 ISSUES FOR JUST £6 Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Hong Kong House, Stroud

18:04 04 February 2010

HK House

HK House

The wonders of the Orient, and some fine food, can't compete with Stroud's levitating urinal by Katie Jarvis

Just back from Delhi. Before I went, I joked that my kitchen hygiene was so bad, Ian and I would be the only people on our trip not to get ill. Humiliatingly, Ian and I were the only people on our trip not to get ill.


Every time we went out, hawkers would swoop and flock, plying us with embroidered cloths of vibrant greens and reds and golds, rich silks, glittering bangles, iridescent peacock feather fans, and wooden snakes that rose from their caskets like their live cousins that swayed to the rhythms of pipes on every dusty pathway.


"Only 200 American dollars for this leather whip... OK, lady, 100 dollars... 500 rupees? 200 rupees? OK - what you want to pay?"


Desperate to escape the pounding rays of the sun, we'd buy the few items we could cram into our rucksacks. If only those street vendors had sold packets of Imodium, they'd now be living like maharajas.


We ate milky porridge for breakfast, sweetened by thick wild honey, before venturing into the jungle where a tiger ambled and basked just metres from our open-top jeep. (As a safety precaution, I sat by someone who looked utterly delicious.)


We dined in a desert fort under a startlingly starry sky on paneer bhurji - cottage cheese unlike any I've ever known - and naan bread, as dancers sashayed to drums and sitar, silhouetted by the blazing torches they held aloft. We ate omelette and spicy vegetable cakes on the train to Agra, served by a turbaned waiter. And (blush) pizza from Pizza Hut in Jaipur.


I have seen many strange sights: roads where camels, elephants, cars, monkeys, rickshaws, lorries and buses (driven in a way that strongly implies a belief in fatalism) jostle for road space like shoppers at a Harrods sale. I have met travelling holy men, ragged beggars and sacred cows roaming through the city streets.


But no sight was so mysterious and indicative of cultural differences as the one that we saw on our return to Stroud: a urinal that rises from the ground at night. Ian, private beyond words, is incredulous at the sheer openness of it.


"It can't be!" he says, voice hushed with wonder, walking round it in a way that could be construed as suspicious. "There are no doors... no covers at all... It makes the French look demure." (Ian spent several years commuting by metro to Paris from the surrounding countryside, and still refuses - rightly or wrongly - to believe that the words 'French businessman' and 'soap' could ever form a grammatically correct phrase.)


"Well what else can it be?" I point out, reasonably.


Ian tries to make a phone call on it/buy chocolate from it/press a button for historical information/post litter down it, before conceding defeat.


I drag him off to HK House in Russell Street for therapy. We're trying HK House because both Matthew Fort and Katie Fforde have recommended it. And (if you need an 'and') because, after our Indian foray, we're too Bold, Adventurous and Interesting (in our view) to go anywhere very English.


The first thing that strikes you about HK House is the genuine warmth of the welcome. Although the staff are Oriental, this seems a particularly Stroud phenomenon. Certainly, regulars at Tinto's in the High Street - a favourite lunchtime venue of mine - are similarly soothed. No one there ever asks you an untwiddly question; it's always: "Would this lovely lady like her delightful bill now?" It makes you feel you're gorgeous.


But back to Chinese food, and a dilemma that must face all Oriental restaurateurs in Europe. As any visitor to Hong Kong or China will know, the food there bears little resemblance to that offered in Chinese restaurants in England - and you can often see why. The genuine article has to be tempered to our easily-shockable palates; we want an experience we can cope with. Leaving aside the wisdom of offering a dish called Yik Sik (even if it is crispy king prawns), this is what HK House does exceptionally well. They've started from a base no one can argue with: fresh produce, nothing overly complicated, and a gratifyingly high standard of both cooking and front-of-house service. Putting all that together, it's also pretty good value.


We pick a set menu (minimum two people) that begins with a mix of starters, including parcels of prawns, deep-fried slithers of chicken and a delicate crispy moss of seaweed.


Of course, we could have been more daring: the menu offers an inevitably huge choice. But in spite of the multiplicity of dishes, it's hard to spot a compromise when it comes to quality. Certainly, fellow diners have an air of discernment about them.


The starters give way to duck, shredded at the table for us to make into plentiful pancakes; followed by the main courses of lemon chicken with crushed almonds (heavily reminiscent of lemon curd), sizzling Thai-style lamb, and roast pork Szechuen style - very nicely balanced flavoursome dishes indeed. There's a particularly good wine list, from which we pick a cheap but highly acceptable New World Shiraz.


You don't go to Chinese restaurants, on the whole, for deserts, but don't miss out on the flambed bananas to finish...


The bill for a nicely-filling dinner for two is 77.90. A bill for a complete meal in India was around 4. But this isn't India: it's Stroud, with its levitating urinals. All in all, far more of a culture shock.



Ambience 6/10


Service 7/10


Food 7/10


Value for money 7/10



HK House is at 12a Russell Street, Stroud, 01453 768833.



Shop with us at Great British Life

More from Food & Drink

12:55
Eric and his team

Local restaurant, Tattersall’s Brasserie, within the popular Broadway Hotel, was recently awarded a prestigious second AA Rosette.

Read more
10:02
The opening of Sister Charlotte's

Bottles were popped and the champagne was flowing at the historic Stanbrook Abbey Hotel when the iconic venue marked the official opening of its restaurant, Sister Charlotte’s.

Read more
09:49
The George Hotel, Cheltenham

The George Hotel, located on St. Georges Road in Cheltenham town centre was purchased 1 February in an off-market deal with Cotswold Inns and Hotels.

Read more
Cheltenham
Yesterday, 17:25
Wholefoods, Cheltenham

Make your Valetine’s weekend even more romantic with these Valentine’s food offers at Wholefoods, Cheltenham.

Read more
Yesterday, 15:10
The Potting Shed Pub, Malmesbury

Whether you’re a loyal local or a visitor to the area, you’ll never be far from a charming real ale pub in the Cotswolds.

Read more
Saturday, February 6, 2016
Lucknam Park Hotel

Afternoon Tea, once the preserve of high society, is now widely available in cafés, tearooms and restaurants across Britain. This is no less true in the Cotswolds, where you can delight in a cream tea or sip a delicate speciality blend in virtually every town and village in the region. To help you choose, here’s our selection of the best places to enjoy afternoon tea around the Cotswolds.

Read more
Friday, February 5, 2016
Gutgastronomy by Adam Palmer & Vicki Edgeson

Receive a free copy of Adam Palmer & Vicki Edgeson’s latest book ‘Gutgastronomy’ with every booking for Ladies Who Lunch cookery Masterclass.

Read more
Monday, February 1, 2016
AquaVitae

A new bar and restaurant in Cheltenham’s Regent Street is creating ripples of excitement in the Cotswold food and drink scene

Read more
Cheltenham
Monday, February 1, 2016
Sunday afternoons are made for lazing in a cosy pub, beer in hand and an overflowing plate of delicious roast dinner on the table...

Sunday afternoons are made for lazing in a cosy pub, beer in hand and an overflowing plate of delicious roast dinner on the table. We pick 6 of our favourite places for Sunday lunch in Cheltenham.

Read more
Cheltenham
Friday, January 29, 2016
Purslane restaurant

Cheltenham is miles from the sea so who would have thought that we could enjoy such amazingly fresh fish at Purslane on Friday night? Julia Reilly found out

Read more
Cheltenham
Monday, January 25, 2016
Valentine's Weekend Menu at Seven Tuns, Chedworth

Join Seven Tuns this Valentine’s Weekend for a very special Valentine’s menu.

Read more
Monday, January 25, 2016
Some of the dishes which appeared on the first ever menu such as Scallops, Mussels and Thai Crispy duck are still among the best sellers today

The AA have awarded 2 Rosettes for the 8th Year running to one of Cheltenham’s most popular independent restaurants

Read more
Monday, January 25, 2016
Ham, Egg and Chips Project

The Campaign for Real Ale’s National Pub of the year, the Salutation Inn, in Ham, Gloucestershire, is proud to announce that it will be serving plates of 100% home-grown ham, egg and chips in the finale to its “Ham, Egg and Chips Project”.

Read more
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Fine wines and amazing chocolate, a match made in heaven.

What could be more decadent than indulging in an evening of wine and chocolate tasting?

Read more

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory
A+ Education


Local Business Directory

Cotswold's trusted business finder

Job Search in the Cotswolds




Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search