Walking into Cho77, you immediately feel the pulse of the restaurant, and not just because the bass is pumping. The vibe is contagious and exciting, as it should be for a fun night out — but what makes Cho77 different? There's a certain je ne sais quoi that makes the place feel like a New York City restaurant with a natural hustle and bustle. Cho77 has an open design that draws your eyes to a brick wall decorated in graffiti art, as well as a community bar fronting an open kitchen where you can watch chefs cook up their creations.
Start your night with a Drunken Monk cocktail, which offers a refreshing citrus blast that's like biting into a grapefruit over and over, with herbal notes of gin to balance the tartness. Or, if you're in more of a whiskey mood, try the Cho Fashioned. Both are especially tasty when sipped alongside appetizers — in this case, pork-belly buns and shishito peppers. Cho77 also makes some outstanding dumplings, whether the classic red-chile pork dumplings or a recent bacon-cheeseburger shumai special, but our favorite is the bao mi buns: a combo of fluffy Chinese bao buns and bright Vietnamese banh mi fillings.
Dive into the buns and enjoy the cloud-like texture as your teeth sink into the sweet dough, which gives way to salty-sweet pork and crisp cucumber, carrot and cilantro. Vivid green shishito peppers make another great starter (curbing your appetite without filling you up), with notes of miso and honey and a grilled taste in each bite.
Some of the restaurant's dinner options (like the noodle soups) aren't great for sharing, but the wonton noodles and the wok-tossed duck leg are perfect for two. The wonton noodles are tender and come topped with caramelized pork belly (yes, we love pork belly) and bok choy, providing a balanced freshness to the dish. The wok-tossed duck leg is an inventive dish, using shredded duck in curry to make it stand out. The dark-meat flavor marries with the curry in an addictive way, so you may find yourself fighting for the last shreds.
It’s the holiday season and a time to meet up with friends and family; a visit to Cho77 makes for a fun, hip and affordable meal that will impress them all.
Total: $29 or $28.50
Drunken Monk or Cho Fashioned cocktail: $10
Takara sake (shared): $3.50
Bao mi bun (shared): $4
Shishito peppers (shared): $2.50
Wok-tossed duck leg (shared): $9, or wonton noodles (shared): $8.50
Cho77 also has happy hour from 5 to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 2 to 6 p.m. on weekends, with a second happy hour from 9 p.m. to close Wednesday through Saturday, if you're looking to stretch the savings even further.