Sō Much Meat, Sō Little Time


Claire Davison

Photo of Restaurant Review Winner, Natalia Wunder.

On every special occasion, my family drives an hour and a half to a traffic-filled intersection in Centerville, Virginia hosting the Korean restaurant, Sō. Established in 2016, the singular operation is notable for its modernity. However, it is their trendy specialty, Korean barbeque, that attracts the line of people outside their door. Although off-put by their location, I am always fascinated by Sō’s authentic and engaging experience. 

As I opened the door, my senses were delightfully overwhelmed: The aroma of garlic with sweet onion wafted into my nose, and the sizzling of meat drifted into my ears. I was charmed by the natural glow fairy lights provided, and the mahogany furnishings contrasting the pristine steel grills and cedar floors complimented the minimalist decor greatly. 

It was only a few minutes until my family was seated at a table near the kitchen, and it was even less when 32 side dishes, pots of steaming white rice, and three delectable dipping sauces were placed neatly beside our grill. After attentively eyeing this banchan, I served myself everything. The slices of the pickled radish were crisp and refreshing with their crunchy texture, and the fermented kimchee covered in red pepper powder had an acidic tang I thoroughly enjoyed. Although the steamed egg and tofu soup were bland, they paired well with brined pork bones and warm, flaky rice. I couldn’t help myself from setting more of each on my plate. 

The only thing that could take my attention away from my platter was the sudden sparks popping from the grill in front of me. Our server efficiently slid spicy bulgogi, spicy pork belly,

and fatty brisket onto the grill, and their immediate sizzle transfixed me with each juicy sear. I did not know which I loved more: the succulent bulgogi, marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil with chopped garlic and onions, or the spicy pork belly, with its beautiful marbling of white fat against pinkish meat. By itself, I found each meat to be sublime, but paired with airy rice, crunchy daikon, and chili plum sauce, they left me salivating for more with their light, chewy texture and invigorating sweet, salty, and fiery punch. After two hours, I couldn’t eat another bite. My back was sore and my stomach stuffed. 

Sō will forever be a place I cherish. It’s food I would die for—quite literally! After eating undercooked pork belly thanks to my poor cooking skills, I got salmonella and went to the hospital for dehydration (which is why I always ask for the servers to cook my food). Nevertheless, I will keep going here with my family and friends—regardless of its hefty price at $33 per person. It’s just Sō good.