anyone been to Sohoju in Little Tokyo?
- Chowpatty Jul 10, 2006 04:44 AM
After our tepid experience at Chop Suey in Little Tokyo, we noticed a newish place in Japanese Village Plaza called Sohoju, kind of Korean-Japanese fusion I think. It had an amusingly translated mission statement in front, calling it Nomadic or "Frusian" cuisine, a mixture of nouvelle with fusion, with organic ingredients. Anyway the interior was nice with a lighted wall of sake and wood benches...anyone tried it out?
I ate at Sohoju once and was very pleasantly surprised. I wasn't really keen on having Korean food that night, since I was about to go to the motherland where there would be nothing else, but it was a dark and rainy night, and too much of a crowd at Daikokuya. So I had the soontubu jjigae, and my boyfriend had, I think, bi bim bap. We noticed that the ingredients were more fresh than you might get at the average Korean restaurant. My soontubu was very tasty, if not as good as Sokongdong. The only thing that didn't measure up was the green tea rice - an interesting idea, but mine lacked that glossy chewiness that to me is the essence of Korean rice. Service was super nice.
I would never go back just because, unlike traditional Korean restaurants, they do not serve panchans with your meal. For me, that's like a piranha with no teeth--sorta pointless.
Not going back. We had to pay $2 for kimchi that usually comes free with every meal I've ever had at any other Korean restaurant. Not only was it not free, but it was one piece. One piece of kimchi.
The food itself seems very catered to an American palate. I ordered a shrimp with chili dish that was basically just orange shrimp with mangoes. It was edible, but not what I expected.
We just went last night, and based on the comments here, we weren't expecting anything extremely authentically Korean. Knowing that, we enjoyed the food for was it was. Tasty and fried. We ordered the Fried Salmon Salad, Chicken Japchae, the SFC (Sohoju Fried Chicken), and Fried Calamari. It's definitely the sort of place you go to drink and eat fried food. The japchae noodles were great, as was the salmon salad. I would go back just for the salad, to be honest. SFC was eh, and the calamari was ok, but not amazing. I was disappointed with the fact that they hid onion rings in with the calamari to make it look like there was more squid. It's a cheap trick. Service was excellent, but the volume of the music seemed to increase as we sat.
I think this restaurant is exceptional. It's pretty clear that you are not going to be eating traditional Korean food the minute you walk in the door. The austere but pleasing atmosphere stands out among the bland unambitious Japanese restaurants of Little Tokyo. The family style tables are great if you find yourself ordering a number of dishes which I always do.
The Bulgogi combination is extraordianry and generous served with rice balls in lettuce and a rich flavorful dipping sauce. The tofu yon is the finest tofu I have tasted; circles of silken tofu with small scallions in a delicate broth, it almost breaks apart just looking at it. Japchae salad is great too.
This may sound strange, am I am not a huge peanut fan but the roasted peanuts at Sohoju are the best I have ever had. The manager, Changho, roasts the peanuts by hand. He is a wonderful person. Very sweet, very attentive which makes it easier when you have to ask him to turn the darn music down!
After a stop at the Murakami exhibit at MOCA, we dropped in to Sohoju, lured by the backlit bottles of sake at the back of the restaurant, and the chalkboard menu. The decor was clean, modern and uncomplicated. We found the service extremely friendly on a busy night, and the food clearly fusion. We just needed a late bite, not a giant meal, and thought our selections were very tasty. We oggled the plates at the next table, which looked good too. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, enjoying their meals, and we made a note to ourselves to come back and try more. I would recommend it if you're looking for something different and not hardcore traditional. I'm disappointed to see bad reviews online because we had enjoyed it so much! We will give it another try soon, regardless.