Sogo definitely gives new meaning to "steakhouse," which I tend to visualize with a knotty wood interior and a menu loaded with meat and potatoes. In fact, the restaurant — billing itself as a sushi bar, hibachi and lounge — offered quite a few surprises when I went there for lunch recently with my friend, Mary.
Contemporary and swanky, with an artsy aesthetic that made us feel like we were in New York City. Black tables and chairs, neon accents, creative architectural details (even on the ceiling) and hip music give it a nightclub vibe. Tables are stylishly set with matching ceramic plates, sauce dishes and chopstick holders, with black chopsticks positioned just so. A flat-screen TV near the sushi bar was tuned to ESPN.
Mary ordered the Unagi Bento Box ($8.90) because she enjoys the taste of freshwater eel and doesn't want to break her record of making me try new exotic foods. "You just have to get over the fact that it's a slivery water creature," she says as she dumps a piece onto my plate. (Her box was originally delivered with everything except the unagi, but our server remedied the situation quickly.) Although it wasn't horrible, I'd pass next time on the fatty, smoky fish, served over zucchini, onions, carrots and broccoli. Her meal came with miso soup (more sweet than salty, with scallions, tofu and a hearty helping of seaweed), shumai (scrumptiously soft steamed dumplings stuffed with shrimp), fruit salad and a big, fat snow crab roll (there were eight pieces instead of the three included in most bento boxes elsewhere).
I went with the Shogun Chicken ($9), described on the menu as white-meat chicken and broccoli in a sweet and spicy brown sauce. I'll say upfront that this dish was mighty tasty, with just the right amount of heat. However, I was bummed that it was fried — similar to Sesame Chicken — as there was nothing in the description to suggest it would be (and descriptions for other dishes did mention that cooking method). The presentation was beautiful, arriving in a stark white bowl that made the brown sauce and green broccoli pop, with a square dish of brown rice perched on the side. I would've preferred more broccoli (I ran out with half a plate of chicken to go), and although I started with miso soup, I didn't realize until I was reading the to-go menu after our lunch that my selection was also supposed to come with a spring roll.
Nevertheless, I will definitely become a repeat customer.
Full bar. Japanese tea and soft drinks are $2.25. Sake starts at $6. We had water.
The damage: $23.33
Next time ... I'd get the Monkey Roll ($11.90) — with tempura shrimp, snow crab, and a spicy and creamy sauce.