Tucked away in a quite suburban part of Carlow you will find Ho Ting Asian Cuisine, and it won’t be what you are expecting. When Ho Ting opened in Carlow a year and a half ago, they really wanted to offer more than traditional Chinese cuisine and so onto their extensive, well written menus they have built in a section of Japanese and Thai dishes.
On arrival you will be greeted by Ling and the rest of her friendly staff. They will take you through to the dining room, a small intimate setting full of luxury from hanging chandeliers, large imposing mirrors on the wall and high back gold leather chairs. As we crunched on fresh prawn crackers and read our way through a selection of menus from an All Day Special offering a 2-course plus a glass of wine for €17.50 or a 4-course for €19.90; an early bird 3-course which offered value at €16.50 per person to the A La Carte. There were several set menus ranging from €28-30 each, so the choice really depended on how hungry you are.
We opted for the A La Carte, this is when the reading really began as it was spread over several pages and divided firstly into appetizers, of which there were 31 to choose from. This included aromatic duck/lamb served with fresh vegetables, chef’s special sauce and pancakes; pan fried scallops in teriyaki sauce or stuffed crab claws. We chose Japanese deep fried prawns; aromatic duck and tom yum won ton soup.
Mains were broken down into all sauces (curry, satay, Kung po etc.) and then into meats from beef, duck, seafood, vegetarian etc. A dish called peppery chicken caught my eye; stir fried chicken with pepper, onion, courgettes, spring onion, chilli and coriander all carmelised in a peppery sauce. As did salt & chilli sea bass or king prawn with cashew nut served in a birds nest. A vegetarian option is Samba tofu which is stir fried tofu with asparagus, pepper, tomato & onion with a blend of basil, coriander and fresh chilli sauce. In the end we enjoyed the beef teriyaki with fried rice; house fried rice served with duck curry and crispy chicken in king do sauce and noodles.
The wine list is simple and well chosen with a small selection of red/white/sparking & rose available by the glass, ½ bottles and full bottles. Prices range from €16.50 to €35.00 a bottle and up to €55 for sparkling on that special occasion. We chose a fine Pinot Grigio, and sipped on it throughout dinner.
All in all really Ho Ting is good value and everything is fresh and cooked to order. Where possible produce and meats are locally sourced. The one thing that impressed me, as I always feeling guilty when I find myself eating Chinese, as we expect it to be high in additives and calories; Ling and the chefs are very health conscious and use low fat and high fiber ingredients, and it takes away the guilt. Guilt free eating - always a good plan.