CHRISTMAS OFFER 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.



More from Food & Drink

Wed, 11:01

Indulge in a truly enjoyable evening with a delicious 7 course tasting menu prepared by our Head Chefs Sue & Mark Stinchcombe.

Read more
Tue, 16:34

Stay at Whatley Manor before Christmas and receive a £50 credit to use however you choose to, in the hotel, restaurants or in Aquarias Spa. You will also receive a festive gift on departure.

Read more
Tue, 11:28

Served Wednesday to Saturday throughout December, beginning on the 30th November.

Read more
Mon, 15:56

Following this year’s Cotswold Life Food & Drink Awards, guests enjoyed a delicious lunch at Cheltenham’s Curry Corner

Read more
Friday, November 25, 2016

You may think you have walked into a restaurant in Burgundy France this week as Jesse’s Bistro on Black Jack Street celebrates Beaujolais Nouveau.

Read more
Friday, November 18, 2016

The Salutation Inn in Gloucestershire is named one of CAMRA’s best four pubs in Britain

Read more
Monday, November 14, 2016

For Katie Jarvis good food and good value at Le Bistrot Pierre stirs memories of life-and-death zebra crossings and reclusive, curtain-twitching neighbours

Read more
Monday, November 7, 2016

Our food & drink columnist celebrates the cosmopolitan taste of the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, November 7, 2016

Celebrate Burns Night with a fabulous Ross & Ross Food Pop Up at Cotswolds Distillery.

Read more
Monday, October 31, 2016

Head to Gloucestershire’s Daylesford Organic on Friday November 4 for a Daylesford supper to mark the 70th anniversary of The Soil Association

Read more
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Gather your colleagues, friends or family and head to Le Mazot brasserie this festive season. From the 1st December our festive à la carte menu is served.

Read more
Monday, October 24, 2016

Whether you’re hoping for a leisurely Christmas Day lunch or a luxurious festive break away, why not try one of these 14 charming Cotswold spots for a stress-free way to celebrate Christmas

Read more
Monday, October 17, 2016

As befits a country pub with a strong horse racing theme, The Jockey Inn at Baughton has galloped over the finishing line to win a prestigious national food award.

Read more
Monday, October 17, 2016

Afternoon tea something of an institution in the Cotswolds, and in recent years has seen a surge in popularity. Once a preserve of the rich and wealthy, more people are now switching to afternoon tea as an alternative way to spend an afternoon than the usual pubs or restaurants. But what constitutes the perfect afternoon tea?

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Family Business Awards link

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory
A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad
Cotswold Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Cotswold's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search