With a terrace staring up at the Qutub Minar in the swanky Mehrauli high street, New Delhi‘s CHO is an eatery that specialises in cuisine from Vietnam… Feast on Pho and a host of other dishes for that perfect date-night in Delhi’s party district.
If you think of shortlisting venues for the perfect date night, some of the elements that you’d look for include the perfectly warm ambience, a terrace with a view, and subtle hints of romance that make the venue a place you’d want to forever come back to. Set in Mehrauli, one of Delhi’s ultimate high street party and fine dining destinations, CHO ticks all the boxes so that when you first set foot on its gorgeous yet subtly decorated terrace, you immediately break into a smile.
An inimitable view
For my recent visit, I chose a table at the terrace for the evening at CHO. Coming in at the peak of the formidable Delhi winter this year, the only incentive for me amid the literally biting cold of the evening was the inimitable backdrop of the Qutub Minar. With the Minar lit up against the streaks of twinkling warm lighting, every inch of this venue feels special. Interestingly, it is understated as well, which adds to the overall charm of the place.
The brainchild of Chef Vaibhav Bhargava, CHO lends itself to hero Vietnamese cuisine with dishes that have become increasingly popular and mainstream in Delhi of late. The venture is just over a year old, and as Chef Bhargava tells me, footfall remains steady even on weekdays. A large part of this, from what we fathom, is because of what CHO offers: A quieter-than-others place to sit and have a conversation in, while savouring a full-sized Vietnamese menu and a host of cocktails.
In Bhargava’s own words, CHO is “not a party venue”, and the restaurant leverages this to the maximum.
From Pho to Bun Cha, a Vietnamese treat
On to the food. CHO offers a multi-tiered menu that gives you salads, dumplings, baos and rice paper rolls among small dishes, followed by the customary hot pots and pho (a traditional Vietnamese one-pot meal) among the large dishes. However, it also has a host of other additions, such as spring rolls, and even a number of pizza options.
Choices in the ‘small dishes’ section include the likes of Crispy Lotus Root, Steamed Edamame, Hanoi street-style Chicken Wings, Bun Cha (Vietnamese pork patties), Rock Shrimp Tempura, and Duck Puff, among others. Meal bowls in the menu include Grilled Salmon Steak and Crispy Sliced Tenderloin, while the large plates include Braised Tofu, Vietnamese Curry, Braised Pork Belly, and a host of rice, noodles, and dessert options.
Something for everyone
The menu is extensive. Essentially, everyone has items on the list to choose from. The Truffle Edamame Dumplings taste good, and while the Truffle Cream Cheese Dumplings can be spruced up thanks to the three different dipping sauces. The filling could have been better though. The Belgian Pork Belly Bao tasted exactly what you’d imagine a pork belly portion of a bao to taste —juicy, succulent, and with just the right balance of chewiness.
Interestingly, even amid the Vietnamese items, while the pizza felt surplus to the menu, the Avocado Pizza was surprisingly fresh, zingy, and light. Even among the light dishes, items such as Lemongrass Chicken and the Duck Puff were flavourful, although the Mock Meat, at least for non-vegetarians, was not among the best dishes that we would pick again.
The main choice here, though, was the Pho — a one-pot meal that is sufficient for a full-course dinner. The soup is savoury and quite full-bodied, although for those with limited appetites, it can be fairly heavy. The hot pot, which comes with the added drama of an actual, single-burner stove being brought to your table, is also a good option if you are not too fond of Pho — which we quite liked.
To sum up, CHO is an experience that is best headlined by the inimitable view of the Qutub Minar, and the charm of the open terrace on a chilly winter night. With the food standing out for the niche cuisine that it serves, coupled with full-bodied cocktails, it is a venture that definitely has plenty going for it.
Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (Max: 5 stars)
Food: 7/10 | Drinks: 7.5/10 | Service: 8.5/10 | Decor: 9/10 | Vibe: 9/10