First of all, this review is biased. Let’s get that out of the way upfront. I do not like Asian food. No matter how many times I try, I just can’t seem to wrap my taste buds around the spices, sauces, or strange meat (even shrimp from Asian restaurants tastes utterly strange to me). There are exceptions to my rule i.e. Penang. Also, I will devour a good bowl of fried rice any day.I’ve passed by Cafe Soho every day to and from work. It’s situated on 468 W Cheltenham Avenue in what may be called Olney or Melrose Park. I noticed it was always open late and always crowded. From the outside, it looked like a cozy, bubbling place. I searched online and was not able to find a website for this establishment, but was able to find numerous reviews on yelp and other websites. All the reviews were great with the main attraction being the wings. Many reviewers did indicate the wings were pricey, but well worth the price. The establishment was less than 10 minutes from my house and rather than going to McDonalds or Wendy’s, I thought I would give it a try.
As I entered into Cafe Soho, I was really confused. It was nice, cozy, and dark. However, I wasn’t sure what vibe the place was going for. The name “Soho” reminds me of the poshness that one can find in the Soho section of New York, but this was not posh. The seating was a mix of what looked like antique old benches/tables with modern cafe seating. I couldn’t tell if the music was Asian Hip Hop or Spanish Hip Hop, but after a while it all sounded the same and was rather enjoyable. All the workers were young, Asian, hip and very stylish – except the cook appeared to be Hispanic. My partner was even more perplexed. As we received the menu my head spun. Gordon Ramsay would be astonished. The menu was written in Korean with an English subtitle. There were a few tiny pictures and there were no descriptions of the meal. Instead, it said something like, “Seafood fry”. Well….what seafood is included, does it come with rice, etc. After debating over the menu longer than I had any menu, I opted for the fried wings with a sauce similar to bbq and my partner has the seafood fry. You can’t go wrong with wings, I thought. The menu was utterly weird. There didn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason. There were items from $10 to $149 or more, but we weren’t able to understand what the $149 meal option was. Was this a meal for a family of 10? They also had bar food snacks with a price of $15. What exactly is that? If you didn’t want the Asian fare, you could have opted for spaghetti or chicken fingers.
Finally our food came. The wings looked normal. I think most people would find the wings tasty. After eating 5 (out of the 10), the sauce got to be too much and made me sick to my stomach. However, I would certainly recommend them. They were big and a tad spicy. The meal also came with diced radishes which I mistook as mellons. I took a bite of one and spit it out. At no time did they mention what was in the bowl until I asked when paying for the bill. The seafood fry….well – that was interesting. His dish came out on a platter and resembled a frittata or pizza. It was a mix of vegetables of all sorts and seafood fried together with flour and water. There was octopus, shrimp, calamari, and something with legs. All he could say was “interesting”. He ate more than 1/2 of it, which led me to believe that it wasn’t that bad and if you are a seafood fan, than maybe this dish could provide more variety and flair than something like seafood fried rice.
The experience became even stranger when I asked for water. The waitress brought a Rubbermaid personal drinking bottle to the table. I don’t know if this was bottled tap, bottled purified water or what, but I have never seen water in a restaurant served in plastic Rubbermaid drinking bottles.
Finally the bill came. I nearly fell out of my seat. $35!!!!! Okay let’s rewind, two dishes, 1 beer, 1 coke, and a $1.00 side of rice. After leaving a tip, we spent $40 for the night. All of that was not worth $40. Perhaps $20. I only recommend this place if you are a die hard Asian food fan and if you are into Asian wings. Also, this place seems best for large groups. The portion sizes are huge. Will I go back again? Probably not.