Ken Chung

Unlike other places in Houston where the sounds of K-pop music draw young professionals and university students at night, the food at Soho Chicken Houston restaurant is a lure that makes it the place to be.

Asian fusion food items at the Bellaire Boulevard in the Southwest Management District eatery are prepared with a Korean flare. Video screens and a sound system play throughout the day and get louder at night, featuring lots of popular Korean musical groups. A giant neon Soho sign above the bar complements the brightly painted interior.

The menu’s centerpiece item is the Korean Fried Chicken, by far the most popular dish.

“That’s because it reflects how we try to get every chicken perfect,” said owner Ken Chung, 40.

Indeed, he noted, every chicken isn’t a Soho chicken.

“If a chicken is too fat, it has no taste,” Chung explained. “You’ve got to have a medium-sized bird raised cage-free and fed on no unhealthy hormones or byproducts.”

The sauces the Soho team uses to baste their birds come from fresh ingredients – pungent, sliced garlic and herbs rather than various seasoning powders that many chain restaurants use.

Chung, who is ethnically Korean, is a transplant to Houston from Philadelphia, where his family has another restaurant. Chung, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, decided to branch out to Texas while his mom and other family members continue the business in Pennsylvania.

Other items on the Houston menu all have a Korean twist. Take the Bulgogi Cheese Fries appetizer, in which fries are mixed with Korean-style marinated beef, cheese, jalapenos and green onions. It also has a spicy mayo-based sauce top. Some also like the dish topped with traditional kimchi.

“You get a real burst of flavor,” said Evelyn Villarreal, 26, who was having lunch at the restaurant. “I love Korean food, and these fries are delicious. I can’t have enough.”

Other popular dishes on the menu include the traditional Korean bibimbap (assorted vegetables and beef on rice), galbi (marinated beef ribs), bibim udon (cold, spicy noodles), sundubu jjigae (spicy soft tofu soup, served with rice and side dishes), the mixed seafood pancake and many, many more.

There’s even a dish that’s a nod to Chung’s military background – the Army Stew, a hot pot loaded with ramyun noodles, sausage, ham, and veggies.

Don’t forget to ask for the military discount, which Chung proudly offers.

Just because the place is packed at night on weekends, featuring specialty drinks with flavored soju (Korean liquor), saki (Japanese liquor) and other beverages, doesn’t mean the restaurant isn’t family friendly.

Most major sporting events are shown on the restaurant’s big screens, said Tom Tien, co-manager for the past three years. “And, we have a nice mix of families with kids throughout the day. There’s something on the menu that everybody will like.”

Soho Chicken Houston
9393 Bellaire Blvd., Ste. A3
Open daily 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
Sunday 11 a.m. to midnight