Sojo, Oxford’s stalwart Chinese, is one of our city’s finest restaurants and yet it was uncharacteristically quiet when we visited on a Tuesday night.

The manager Michael Lee agreed, most of the restaurants at their end of town were experiencing the same thing, that people seemed reluctant to venture that far out of Oxford, and with the shopping centre coming they feared for their future.

Las Iguanas’ unexpected closure this week, one street over, confirmed his worst fears.

I was horrified. If we lose our best independents, Oxford will turn into a mediocre chain-led machine with no individuality or character at all.

And that can’t happen because Sojo is absolutely wonderful.

All the nationals revere it, it’s sprouted restaurant rewards and glowing reviews since opening decades ago and continues to churn out mind-numbingly good Chinese food every night.

Tuesday’s meals was no different. Arriving at 10.15pm (last orders are at 10.30pm for any post-theatre customers, so bear that in mind when scouring George Street for somewhere decent to eat,) Sojo came up trumps with an extra half an hour to play with.

We asked Michael to order for us, making sure he included a few of our favourites – the salty green beans and deliciously good Szechuan deep gooey aubergines.

He added some spicy lamb ribs still on the bone (£9.30), some gan shao prawns (£10.50), a sweet soy hock cooked on the joint (£16), egg fried noodles (£3.50), jasmine rice (£4), a new one for me – shredded lotus root (£9) and some miao ga gai – cast iron pot chicken with chilli (£8.80), the intoxicating mix of taste and flavours, offering new and novel tastes alongside the old favourites, all exceptional, all delicious, all memorable.

The lamb ribs arrived with almost a dry rub which was unusual although losing none of the dish’s flavour in the transition.

The moisture was thus provided by the numerous accompaniments, the sliced lotus root’s light purple colour and crunch again offering up a new taste and texture.

The pork arrived cooked on the bone, Michael dividing it masterfully in front of us, leaving all the fat, meat and juices, and disappeared faster than Hong Kong Phooey’s human eye, the chicken was a more traditional course, a little breather before embarking on the more adventurous dishes such as the prawns, which were hot to trot and might explain the two bottles of rose which disappeared indecently quickly along with some cold Tsing Tao beer.

The bill came to £123 for four including booze and coffee which was incredibly good value for money and it was an exemplary meal as ever, and every time I introduce anyone to Sojo’s delights, they are life-long fans.

This week it will probably be heaving at the seams, as Oxford’s next generation of students has a look around as the graduates attend their leaving ceremonies.

But the student population is a transient one, as are the tourists and visitors. What Sojo relies on are the locals and it’s regulars.

So if I have one request, it’s for you to go, go as often as you can.

Support our independents for sure, but Sojo, of all Oxford’s restaurants deserves our footfall more than most.

Without it Oxford will be depleted. It will be our loss.


6-9 Hythe Bridge Street, Oxford

01865 202888