Saturday, May 25, 2024

Chocho’s has closed in Lesley University’s property in Porter Square. (Photo: Marc Levy)

The Korean restaurant Chocho’s closed Monday after nearly two decades in Cambridge’s Porter Square.

A sign in the dark space in the center of The Shops at Porter, in the Lesley University building at 1815 Massachusetts Ave. – a collection of Asian restaurants and shops often still called the Porter Exchange – thanks customers “graciously for your patronage” since the opening in 2004.

The restaurant’s lease expired, and the owners were taking the opportunity to retire, said Sang Cho, when reached by phone Tuesday.

Chocho’s neighboring snack shop, called Yotopia, will stay open, Cho said. It has served frozen yogurt and other treats since December 2015. The businesses are run with wife Eunmi Cho and son Walter.

A classic Korean soup from Chocho’s. (Photo: Tom Meek)

A kitchen fire in May 2018 knocked out ChoCho’s business for several months. Cambridge food writer Tom Meek was glad to see it reopen that December slightly larger – though with a slightly smaller menu, and struggling with staffing and regrowing its clientele.

“Savory classics remain, such as the ok dol bibimbap served in a sizzling hot stone bowl (rice, veggies and a choice of protein – bulgogi, chicken or salmon), the signature soondubu tofu soup that comes with banchans (little snack plates such as kimchi and seaweed salad) and marinated short ribs (kalbi) from the grill,” Meek said. During the winter, “You can’t top the chill-eradicating delight of a boiling bowl of soondubu tofu soup (in vegetable, seafood, bulgogi and kimchi versions) that you drop a raw egg into and let cook.”

Lesley has been allowing its ground-floor retail and restaurant space to empty since the pandemic, signaling in 2021 that there would be big changes at its University Hall building. Last summer, the eateries were approached by designers working for Lesley who made clear the eateries would be relocated into a large space once occupied by the Shaking Crab restaurant. Filling that prominent corner spot leaves open the central part of the former Sears building for an unnamed new use.

The closing of Chocho’s narrows the choices for lovers of Korean food in Cambridge and Somerville to Koreana, at 158 Prospect St. in The Port neighborhood between Central and Inman squares; Bonchon, 57 John F. Kennedy St., Harvard Square, with a menu based around Korean fried chicken; and Yoshi’s, 132 College Ave., Powder House Square, Somerville, which has Korean items as well as sushi and other Japanese dishes.