Tucked into the pavement on Hythe Street in Oxford, just after the bridge and a couple of hundred yards before the railway station, is SoJo.

This warm, quirkily decorated restaurant that serves Chinese food is a safe distance from the main shops by day and along a dark stretch of street by night.  It is always busy, intensely popular with those who know its food and a blissful surprise for those lucky enough to have just stumbled in.

We have been there twice recently.  Once with a party of around 14, most of whom were young men, and the second time in a smaller group.  On each occasion the service was outstanding.

SoJo’s website, and the reviews on that website, will tell you how good the food is.  What they do not all tell you is how exceptional the service is.  SoJo has a level of service that anticipates, informs, relaxes and delivers. There is never any hint of anything other than complete confidence in the dishes on offer and there is always a quick, accurate understanding of the choices that will be most suited to each diner.

Faced with 14 of us SoJo staff asked a few questions about diet, allergies and budget and then produced, with no lengthy wait, a delicious, perfectly judged meal that left all plates stripped clean.

Two days ago we were there again but only three of us.  The meal started with steaming, delicate parcels of dim sum – prawn; prawn and pork; beef; and Shanghai pork and crab roe.  The main courses that followed were Szechuan spicy beef and aubergine; pork strips; Szechuan spicy prawns topped with soy minced pork and diced water chestnut sauce; stir fried fine green beans; and shredded potato with green peppers.

The flavours of the different dishes balanced each other and none were too heavily spiced or in need of extra sauce.  The meal was light and delicious.  Chinese tea was served throughout – from the dim sum start to the  lychees on ice finish.

It was a treat.  The dim sum were £8.50 to share and each main dish about the same.  The lychees, dribbled with Grenadine syrup, were £4.00.

It would be possible to eat for less than it costs at SoJo but where else in Oxford would you be so well fed for that price or  who else would provide that level of service?  If you have any ideas please let me know.

One other point  – where else would you also have the option to have your choice of ingredients freshly cooked on the steaming steel of a large Mongolian wok?

SoJo – well worth the walk.

SoJo, 6/9 Hythe Bridge Street, Oxford OX1 2EW    Tel:  01865 202888        Opening hours:  Mon-Sat 12 noon – 11.oopm;  Sun 12 noon – 10.00pm

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