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Internet Scammers Unleash a Deluge of One-Star Reviews on a Chicago Vietnamese Restaurant

Plus Oriole is named one of world’s top 100 restaurants

A light green banquette sits against a whitewashed brick wall inside a restaurant.
Sochi Saigonese Kitchen joins an unhappy club of restaurant owners besieged by virtual chaos agents.
Kenny Kim/Sochi Saigonese Kitchen

As Chicago restaurants continue to try to pick up the pieces and move forward after more than two years of pandemic tumult, a frustrating new obstacle has emerged for hospitality operators: online hackers, some of whom seek to extract money from their targets. Sochi Saigonese Kitchen, the regional Vietnamese restaurant in Lakeview that was named to Michelin’s 2022 Bib Gourmand list, is the latest local spot to find itself caught in a virtual struggle.

Over the past 10 days, Sochi has been inundated with a series of one-star Google reviews which have driven down its overall ratings, according to an employee who posted in a private Facebook group for members of the Chicago hospitality industry. Last Wednesday morning, the employee writes, owners Chinh Pham and Son Do received an email from an individual claiming responsibility for the barrage of negative reviews and demanding a $75 Google Play gift card to stop the flood of bad ratings. “We sincerely apologize for our actions, and would not want to harm your business but we have no other choice,” the email, reviewed by Eater, reads. “The fact is that we live in India and see no other way to survive.” Pham and Do’s efforts to contact Google have thus far been unsuccessful.

Other members of this unhappy club of restaurant owners under digital siege include the Bien Trucha Group, owner of four restaurants in the western suburbs. In June, hackers used a phishing scam to access the group’s Facebook page, racked up thousands of dollars in charges for cryptocurrency ads, and posted nude photos to its chief technology officer’s personal page. Though Facebook initially unresponsive to the group’s inquiries, Bien Trucha’s page was fixed following the publication of a Tribune story about the saga. Ocaso, a Mexican restaurant in Logan Square, also fell victim to phishing fraudsters who played havoc with its reservation system last winter, shut down online orders on its website, and created a fake Facebook page for the restaurant.

Oriole named one of top 100 restaurants in the world

Oriole, the West Loop tasting menu restaurant from Noah and Cara Sandoval, makes its debut on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list at number 91. Yes, that number is bigger than 50; despite its name, the list goes up to 100, and the release of the back end is a teaser for numbers 1-50, which will be revealed later. At the moment, Oriole is the only Chicago restaurant on the list and one of only five in the United States.

Chefs work in a large open kitchen with a collage ceiling.
Oriole was just named one of the world’s top 100 restaurants.
Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Roscoe Village Burger Fest returns

The Roscoe Village Burger Fest returns to Belmont Avenue between Greenview and Lincoln next weekend, July 15-17, after a pandemic hiatus, Block Club reports. Ten local restaurants will vie for the title of Chicago’s Best Burger — though, strangely, several of them, including Byron’s Hot Dogs and Lola’s Coney Island, are not known for their burgers. There will also be music and kids’ activities; suggested admission is $10.

West Town brewers celebrate beer, jam bands

In other festival news, the Dancing in the Streets Fest, featuring beer and jam bands, will take place August 5-7 in West Town, on Hubbard Street between Paulina and Wood, Block Club reports. It was instigated by On Tour Brewing founder Mark Legenza, a fan of the Grateful Dead; other participating breweries include Forbidden Root, Midwest Coast, Great Central, Finch Beer, and Goose Island.

Ocaso Kitchen&Bar

2901 West Diversey Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 799-8533 Visit Website

Bien Trucha

410 West State Street, , IL 60134 (630) 232-2665 Visit Website

Lola’s Coney Island

2858 West Chicago Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 687-9459 Visit Website


661 West Walnut Street, , IL 60661 (312) 877-5899 Visit Website


1000 W Fulton, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 600-9230

Sochi Saigonese Kitchen

1358 West Belmont Avenue, , IL 60657 (773) 904-8511 Visit Website

Forbidden Root

1746 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622 (312) 929-2202 Visit Website