When you think Asian beer garden, you might think outdoor furniture, random chaos, icy cold beer and great hawker food. Hot and stinky, yet the patrons wouldn’t have it any other way. Not so at Cho Gao. Take all the bad things about a swanky, pretentious inner city bar, mixed with all the bad things from a swanky, overpriced pretentious inner city bar and you have Cho Gao.
You could start with the kitschy Chinese decorations, or the faux rustic brick wall on the boucany. Or even go as far as saying $12 for 3 satay skewers is beyond ridiculous. But it’s the lack of service which is truly exceptional. While there are some Asian staff hidden away from sight in the kitchen, the staff here look about as Asian as the token white guy in a Kung Fu movie. Better still, a ham sandwich.
Now an Asian beer garden should have Asian beer. Well think again. They only had Kirin First Press on tap and I couldn’t see any others bottled (well maybe Chang). No Tsing Tao, Asahi or especially my favourite Japanese micro brews.
I can’t personally vouch for the quality of my $21 chicken curry though. Because it never came. The kitchen must’ve loved it so much they took it to the framers. Those that did eat, got their meals 5 minutes before their rice came. When I finally cancelled the meal, about the time my mates were finishing theirs, there was no apology from the head waiter. He was ran off his feet attending a half full restaurant.
If you like a cultural experience devoid of any culture, service without food, over inflated prices and Asians that look like Ginger Meggs, all washed down with $8 tap beer, Cho Gao is the go. Otherwise a lobotomy might be a less painful experience. There are plenty of great, well established Asian bars in Melbourne: Robot, Double Happiness, you name it. This place just puts the Asian in cauc-asian and looks as if it would probably melt in the sun – no doubt before your meal arrives. Avoid.