Soho Gourmet Cuisines

In a word: It ain't something riding on a motorbike.

The specs: #01057  
2990 Cahill Main, Suite 106, Fitchburg 53711
Details at Yelp, official web site, Facebook, Twitter

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Holly ate the Hong Kong Style Tomato Sauce.
James ate the Portuguese Style Curry.
JM ate the black pepper steak.
Nichole ate the BBQ pork.
The bill was about $11/person, plus tip.
Holly, James and JM gave Soho Gourmet Cuisines a B; Nichole gave Soho Gourmet Cuisines a B+ (see our grading rubric).

Soho may be better known as a delicious food cart, but they also have a physical plant in the old Arbat space in Fitchburg. The mood is very big city, with dark-colored walls illustrated with photographs of skylights.  For us, the mood worked pretty well especially combined with familiar yet outre EDM and black, black tables. (The only thing that didn't work was the Soho symbol on each table attached as a sticker. Many of these were coming off and looked like water spills from a distance.)

We met our companions at the place and everyone ordered from the counter. The bulk of the menu is apps and straightforward, meat-forward dinner options.  There were a handful of baked dishes, two of which graced our partners' plates, while we stuck to the more traditional.

Dumplings

Dumplings were ordered of both the beef and mac & cheese varieties. The former were tasty and rich, but not a blow-you-away kind of thing.  Mac & cheese, on the other hand, was brilliant and we thought that getting those from the food cart would be one of the best apps out there.

Black pepper steak

Everything we got as an entree was good, if not great. The BBQ pork was delicious - savory, not oversalted, in a light sauce. Sweet pickles and ginger scallion chutney complemented the meat and rice perfectly. There were lots of peppers and onions in JM's Black Pepper Steak, but the steak itself was only soso. 

Baked fried rice

The two baked fried rice dishes were a creative combination, both tasty and well-prepared, and covered with delicious mozzarella cheese. Definitely filling and hearty, both yielded leftovers. The Hong Kong Style Tomato Sauce was comprised of tomatoes, onions, and pineapples, also peas, while the fascinating Portuguese Style Curry was coconut-based and loaded with veggies. We agreed that next time we make fried rice at home, cheese is going on top.

Baked fried rice

The prices here were steeper than we expected - we got out much cheaper per person at SSS on State Street for a little better quality food.  But if the cart were next to the other carts, well that would be different, since dumplings are a great cart food and that seems to be where their heart is. As for the Fitchburg location, it is better than 'standard' take-out , even if it is a little pricier.

Pork BBQ

Soga Shabu Shabu

Soga Shabu ShabuIn a word: If it can find a home here, it will be well worth it.

The specs: #01056   
508 State St., 53703
Details at Yelp, official web site

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JM ate the General Tso's chicken.
Nichole ate a stewed beef noodle soup.
The bill was $25, or $12.50/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole both gave Soga Shabu Shabu a B+ (see our grading rubric).

It {BEEP} took us a month to get to Soga Shabu Shabu because of their move from the former Nadia's to the former MiaZa's, and that may have played into our expectations settling. {BEEP} The menu is densely packed with words, {BEEP} but mostly in Chinese (so the {BEEP} pictures helped greatly.)   

Crab rangoon

We did get our customary crab {BEEP} rangoon and we were glad we did. These were {BEEP} delicately fried and contained the most lovely smooth whipped crab {BEEP} centers that were not skimpy on crab neither. There were {BEEP} 8 on the plate!

General Tso's chicken

JM stuck to a standard General {BEEP} Tso's, which here, despite many warnings against spiciness from plainly inferior restaurants, was {BEEP} finally a little spicy.  This was nice pepper heat that {BEEP} never overwhelmed the flavor and really got down to business {BEEP}. Nichole got a nice bowl of {BEEP} soup. (She was fighting a cold during our visit; we'd love to give {BEEP} them a better chance when we're both at full health and in {BEEP} full command of our tasting abilities.) It was salty and savory filled to the {BEEP} brim with the richness of tender beef, smooshy carrots {BEEP} and thick noodles with a nice accent of bok choi. {BEEP}

Stewed beef soup

The meal came with a free dessert buffet with jello, {BEEP} cookies, fruit, and some puddings. This seemed well worth any {BEEP} upcharge. Indeed, this place was selling takeout favorites at takeout prices, {BEEP} but prepared a heck of a lot better. We think {BEEP} it could revolutionize downtown Asian food as Asian Kitchen {BEEP} and A8 China would never be able to keep up {BEEP} with quality on offer right around the corner.  Madison has {BEEP} needed a place like this for a while (Fugu being {BEEP} the closest analog we can think of.)

Oh, and that beeping. Something in the kitchen area was beeping {BEEP} loudly for the whole meal. Kind of drove us {BEEP} bats, in truth. 

NEWS

Madison Food coverOur book Madison Food: A History of Capital Cuisine is out. More about it here. Read it for free thanks to the library - print & ebook, or read an excerpt on Carson Gulley and some bonus bits on Porchlight, Argus, Sunshine Supper, and Babcock.


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