I first reviewed Saint-Henri's Cho in these pages three summers ago. My two visits in its first year of operation turned me into a fan of its fun, pan-Asian fusion fare. Tonight I headed back for a refresher to see how things were shaping up. My lack of a reservation would not be an issue as things were quiet on this Sunday night marking the season's first snowfall.
Tonight's modest turnout counted a couple of family gatherings of varying sizes. A sparsely-populated dining room can spoil a night out at other establishments; but at Cho, the always-jovial and animated staff coupled with the bouncy 70s funk soundtrack will lighten up any mood.
While the menu has probably gone through a couple tweaks since my last visit, the latest version still pushes Cho's signature East Asian fusion concept married with quirky cocktails. Starters and a bao section are followed by main and side dishes.
As my party was in a sharing mood, we opted for a bunch of appetizers for the evening. The offering still excels as we recall; both taste and texture were right on. However, we did notice some homogenization in the flavour profile due to the prevalence of spicy mayo/aioli throughout.
"tossed in a korean chili sauce"
"crispy tempura shrimp tossed in a spicy aioli"
"french fries, kimchi, braised beef, green onions, cheese, spicy aioli"
"moishes pickle, korean coleslaw, hoisin aioli"
"pickled daikon, carrots, spicy aioli"
Tonight's dinner confirmed that Cho still had its mojo; from the food and drink to the ambiance and service, everything screams of exoticism mixed with playfulness. If anything has changed, it seems that the once trendy spot has settled in as a neighborhood haunt – the presence of families and children attesting to that.
This cho – butterfly in Japanese – keeps on fluttering its wings…
Price per person: $26
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.