Sojo, 8 Hythe Bridge Street (moving to 67/69 George Street for Summer 2010)
Sojo is the real deal, and everything about the place is designed to make you think so. Its cool, dark-wooded interior makes a marked contrast to the fairy lights and window displays of the rival ‘Restaurant Paddyfield’ across the road, and the menu, which starts with a self-congratulatory spiel, is encyclopaedic. While such a lengthy menu would usually be an indicator of atrocious food, here it seems authoritative, with the restaurant’s ethnic constitution (we were the only gwai los in the room) bearing happy witness to the fact. Thankfully there is a page of recommendations, and the menu told us that the ‘friendly staff are on hand to help you inform your choice.’ The staff were friendly, and very efficient, but not particularly helpful, and the language barrier was noticeable.
The dim sum was the best I’ve ever had, but still a bit under-whelming, and ‘glutinous rice with chicken’ tasted as bad as it sounds, though ‘glutinous rice with chicken gristle’ would have been a better description. ‘Prawns in salted duck yolk’ was horrible – so salty it had me gurning like a fiend on a Friday night. The highlight of the night was definitely the fantastic Szechuan red pepper beef and glass noodles, the beef acting as seasoning to the delicious spicy broth. The food overall was good but nothing special, though so much looked appetizing – especially the Peking Duck and Mongolian Wok – that I think it’s essential to go in a large group in order to try it all. Sojo’s food is hit-and-miss, but certainly cannot be accused of being inauthentic. So go, but go in a large group to ensure finding something better than so-so.