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Cho's Los Altos finally opens

Uploaded: Feb 22, 2015
Fans of Cho's Mandarin Dim Sum have been anxiously awaiting the return of owner Cho Yu's famous potstickers and pork buns since the news came in December that he would be opening a new location in downtown Los Altos.

Wait no longer: Cho's officially opened for business Saturday, Feb. 21.

Cho and wife Daisy Yu were reportedly aiming to open at 209 1st St. the first week of January, but have been delayed waiting for the gas line to be connected.

The Yus had closed their longtime hole-in-the-wall restaurant on California Avenue in Palo Alto last year after the landlord decided not to renew their lease.

According to a menu posted in the shiny new Los Altos restaurant's windows a few weeks ago, Cho's will be open Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., though posters on Cho's Facebook page wrote that the small restaurant was closed by 3:45 p.m. on opening day.

Check out the menu for items and prices (cash only):

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Bryan, a resident of Downtown North,
on Feb 22, 2015 at 11:12 am

Cash only? No thanks.

Besides the likelihood this makes it easier to underreport earnings to cheat on tax. Cash only is silly strategy to save on transaction fees while creating barriers between a business and a customers wallet.

Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Feb 22, 2015 at 12:30 pm

Unlike Bryan, I care more about the food quality than an abundance of payment options, especially for inexpensive little mom-and-pop shops, like ramen shops, taquerias, and this place.

Many of San Francisco's best dive bars are still cash only and most farmer's market stands are cash only as well, so it's definitely not an inconvenience for me.

Also, I've done a fair amount of international travel and in many countries, cash is king.

I doubt Cho's will go out of business because they are a cash-only joint.

Posted by Doug, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Feb 22, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Cho's was cash-only at the old location for over 30 years. The new menu looks about the same, which is fine with me. I'm curious to see what the space is like, and hope he can make things work in the new location.

Posted by bad vibes, a resident of Midtown,
on Feb 22, 2015 at 3:40 pm

I hope the new Cho's is more hospitable than the old location. I went there a few times based on recommendations but was always very turned off:
- cash only requirement
- sign on the wall saying they reserved the right to refuse service to anyone
- sign on the wall threatening to charge patrons for broken dishes
- lack of cleanliness of the few tables
The combination of these sent one message about the ownership - cheap, cheap, cheap!!

Posted by Fine w/ cash only, a resident of Green Acres,
on Feb 23, 2015 at 10:53 am

I'm ok w/ cash only. Unless you have run a small food business, you won't understand the economics of trying to make it profitable, so anything affecting your profit margin has an impact.
As long as I perceive good value for what I pay, I'm ok w/ a 'cash only' approach.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Feb 23, 2015 at 1:12 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

I'm game to go to Los altos with cash for an inexpensive meal at Cho's. I'm really glad that they've been able to reopen!

Posted by Monique, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Feb 23, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Cho's is GREAT! why whine about how to pay for it? Was very sorry to see them leave California Ave. in Palo Alto. So glad to see Cho's relocated and wish them every success..Best pot stickers ever!

Posted by Wimpy, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Feb 23, 2015 at 3:15 pm

I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a pork bun today.

Posted by Bitcoin, a resident of another community,
on Feb 23, 2015 at 4:04 pm

How old fashioned that they do not accept Bitcoin. Truly they will lose out on the anonymous overseas hacker clientele.

Posted by Palo Alto Resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Feb 23, 2015 at 4:19 pm

Thank you, Elena, for the update. Can't wait to try new location. I am so glad this worked out. I loved dim sum, and now with Ming's closed I need a new spot. I love Steam too, but sometimes it's too slow, and hard to park.

Posted by Jim H, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Feb 23, 2015 at 6:39 pm

How can anyone complain that they only accept US currency. God forbid someone doesn't want to pay transaction fees to the banks.

Cho's was the best deal in Palo Alto. We'll make sure to visit them in Los Altos. And we won't have to worry about our tax dollars going to Los Altos since they probably won't be reporting them all anyway...

Posted by Whiskers, a resident of Los Altos,
on Feb 23, 2015 at 7:32 pm

What's wrong with you people? When a place is Cash Only you automatically think they're cheating on their taxes.

I've been paying with cash for probably forty years now, and do it for a very simple reason: I don't have to wait for the waiter to go to a machine, ring the card up, and return to have it signed.

Not to mention that if we ask for the check before we've finished eating we can pay as soon as we're done and be out the door while you're still waiting for the waiter to pick up your card in the first place.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Feb 23, 2015 at 8:38 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Oh, Whiskers, you practical diner, you :-) I often do the same. I love the scent of new bills!

Posted by luv2design, a resident of Los Altos,
on Feb 24, 2015 at 1:40 pm

Had heard many good things about Cho's so anxious to try out. One word - Really? Pot stickers were burnt on bottom, facility was disorganized and disheveled. At least put the drinks in the refrigerator instead of dumping the cartons of them on the chair next to it. And help yourself to the forks in the box from Costco sitting on the counter? Really? At least attempt to be organized and professional no matter how small you are. Not anxious to go back.

Posted by Common sense, a resident of Mountain View,
on Feb 24, 2015 at 3:49 pm

One of the consequences of "not going back" is that you never learn if your one random experience was at all typical, nor if the new business was getting its act together and has improved.

That's a common weakness of restaurant gripes on Yelp, for example. People there visit a restaurant (often one that just opened); don't bother to learn anything important about it, such as its real strengths; try something random (in Chinese restaurants, that usually means one of the "Americanized" dishes all the restaurants are obliged to include for this very reason -- no matter how little the dish has to do with the kitchen's specialties), judge the entire business and its potential on that petty basis, and self-importantly conclude "I won't be going back." It may be sincere, but it's hardly a basis for seriously judging any restaurant or advising other people about it.

Please note carefully, I'm not assuming "luv2design" fell into that trap, because I don't have any way to know. But it's common in online restaurant advice.

Posted by Sea Seelam Reddy, a resident of College Terrace,
on Feb 25, 2015 at 4:34 am

congratulations on your opening!

You are in a very nice community!

Hope you do well!

Cash only is not a problem!

Posted by Robert, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables,
on Feb 25, 2015 at 8:35 am

Robert is a registered user.

@ Bad Vibe:
Simple Solution - if you do not not like their policy - then do not go to their restaurant.

Posted by Sparty, a resident of another community,
on Feb 25, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Sparty is a registered user.

Dirty broken things is a California Ave tradition.

Did anyone ever go into Golden Wok. I did. Often. But I know many of a certain type of restaurant are quite dirty....

Golden Wok had years and years of dust on most things. Pretty clear they didn't bother cleaning up beyond the "cleaning up" that occurred when one object swiped across another.

But of course years from now, everyone will remember how great everything was.

Posted by Mary, a resident of Waverly Park,
on Feb 25, 2015 at 3:36 pm

Loved going to your place on California Ave for years. Oh boy, now you are even closer to home. Wishing you the very best of luck in your new location. CANNOT wait to come in and have a order of your pot stickers!!!

Posted by whatever, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Feb 26, 2015 at 12:53 pm

I seem to remember that most of the dim sum came out of the freezer.

Cash only is a wonderful way to avoid most types of taxes. So always make sure to get an itemized register receipt (not hand written). Hope the landlord isn't basing any part of rent on those cash only sales.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Feb 26, 2015 at 7:08 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Dim sum coming out of the freezer doesn't mean it's not homemade. I have homemade dim sum in my freezer right now.

So you're accusing Mr. Cho of cheating the tax man?

Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Feb 27, 2015 at 12:02 pm

Man, I really can't believe some of the comments here. This guy has been a local small business owner -- a neighbor -- for 35+ years, running a modest dim sum restaurant and some of you accuse him of dodging taxes?

He could have quit and retired after the California Avenue lease expired, yet he persevered and found a spot in Los Altos to continue his business.

Heck, 35+ years of successful tax evasion, that's one helluva track record. That's like throwing a no-hitter every time a pitcher starts. I can see why some of you are so jealous.

Posted by Ron, a resident of Waverly Park,
on Feb 27, 2015 at 2:30 pm

@Jay Park: Really only a couple of negative comments here. The vast majority of the comments are positive.

@Bryan: Cash only has nothing to do with cheating taxes. Cho has always run a tiny establishment (really just a stovetop and some steamer baskets in an alcove the size of a closet) forever, charges little, makes great food, and just enough profit to eek by. That does not add up to much to pay for credit transactions and bounced checks. Good for him that he is continuing in Los Altos.

Posted by Ron, a resident of Waverly Park,
on Feb 27, 2015 at 2:33 pm

@Bad Vibes: Cho's is not "cheap", it is inexpensive. It is a tiny place that spends little on extras an charges little for home made dim sum. He is open until the closing time or the stuff he made runs out. I love his stuff and glad to see that he has found a new home. We he finally closes for good we will have lost something special.

Posted by Hulabunny, a resident of Los Altos,
on Feb 27, 2015 at 11:59 pm

We are thrilled that Cho's is now in Los Altos! I remember going to Cho's on dates with my boyfriend when I was studying at Stanford, and now that we are married and living in Los Altos, we look forward to bringing our kids to Cho's.

For those who doubt, Cho and his wife make everything - even the egg rolls - themselves. I snuck in right at closing time the other day, and he told me that he will sometimes keep the door open past closing if there are still items left to sell because it's no good to refreeze what he has defrosted. Frozen does not mean it's not homemade; we make Chinese dumplings at home and freeze them immediately after wrapping them - it just makes them much easier to cook.

If you have ever been to Hong Kong, the best food is always in hole-in-the-wall joints with bare-bones amenities. Cho's is reminiscent of that vibe. I hope those who did not have a good first impression give Cho's a second chance after he's worked out the kinks of running his little dim sum shop in this new location.

Posted by pogo, a resident of Woodside: other,
on Mar 5, 2015 at 7:14 pm

pogo is a registered user.

I went there today and it was just so-so.

They are serving four lunch combinations which are scrawled on a small board by the cash register (Combo #1 was crossed out, so technically there were 3 choices). You kinda have to figure out what to do - the chef wasn't much help.

I ordered the #4 - three pot stickers, an egg roll and two pork buns. Everything was super hot and fresh. The pot stickers were pretty good but as someone pointed out the bottoms were burned so that earlier observation may not be an aberration. The egg roll and pork buns were good but not exceptional. Again, all was fresh and VERY hot.

I was most disappointed that the food was served on a simple paper plate so it is pretty difficult to put any sauces (soy, sweet, etc.) on your food. I actually ate the egg roll without any sauces simply because it was too difficult.

This is take out only - so you eat on one of three small tables on the sidewalk. Not bad but not particularly clean either and they are all in direct sunlight. But the entire meal was $6 - not too bad.

Personally, I miss Ming's where you can sit down and get an excellent variety in the traditional circulating steam carts. Of course, that's now a distant memory!

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