People taking pictures of their food is the new selfie - but the cocktails and food look so good at Sohe they’re just screaming out to be committed to social media.
This is a restaurant that’s got enough about it to be a destination venue for people living outside the leafy suburb of Jesmond, without the hullabaloo of a city centre setting.
It starts with a feast for the eyes. You’re greeted by a well-stocked futuristic mosaic bar where a kaleidoscope of colourful drinks are whipped up. Much attention to detail has gone into the decor with bamboo reflecting the Asian menu, gold leaf walls giving an air of opulence, a feature wall made entirely of foliage and a mixture of booths for larger groups and tables with plush seating you can sink into.
It’s the kind of venue which wouldn’t look out of place in London, but without the stuffy atmosphere that sometimes accompanies such restaurants. It was also seemingly free of students on our visit, for those wary of the notoriously ‘enthusiastic’ Osborne Road student crowd.
Drinks are as much of a draw as the food here with options you’ll be hard-pushed to find elsewhere. If you’re looking to have your socks blown off, there’s a range of Japanese rice wines you can knock back, priced from £3.20. For safer Asian options, there’s also Tiger on draught (£4.40 a pint ) and bottles of Asahi, Hitachino and Singha, starting from £3.95.
I went with one of the many exotic-sounding cocktails: the Sloe Siam (£7.95). It arrived as pretty as a picture, a sparkling blend of sloe gin, sake, sugar cane syrup, smashed blackberries, kalamansi puree and lemon. It was a punchy number that set my tastebuds tingling in preparation for our meal. As a side note, those after a bargain, should visit during the daily happy hour which runs from 4pm to 6pm.
On to the food: the menu’s undergone a revamp of late, with more of a focus on vegetarian and gluten-free options. But there’s still some sinful choices lurking amongst the edamame beans for those who want to indulge.
It was the latter which tempted me and I chose the pork and scallops, which is one of the pricier starters at £8.50. You get your money’s worth with three plump scallops, succulently soft but not too chewy, which circled two glistening slabs of belly pork. Meanwhile, splodges of pear puree added a tangy element to the proceedings.
Mains are a concise selection of sushi, Thai curries, wok dishes, BBQ and roasts, as well as Asian classics, such as pad Thai (£13.50) and Thai green curry (£13.90).
I ventured to Cambodia for my culinary choice - the Phnom Penh stirfry (£19.90). After a filling starter, a more than substantial main put my waistband to the test - but I persevered,
A springy bed of wafer thin egg noodles encased in a light soy and oyster sauce balanced out huge chunks of tender fillet beef - practically two steaks’ worth - while lime juice and chilli added a kick. It was a moreish blend and a great balance of flavours which hits your palate from all angles.
It was all served on satisfyingly chunky plates - none of this roof tile and chopping board business that’s become the norm in gastro pubs.
These are meals for people with a real appetite and I had to admit defeat and ask for a doggy bag.
Prices aren’t cheap as chips, but then this isn’t really a chips kind of place. It has more of a bold statement to make than that. For a treat night it’s a picture perfect taste of the Orient.