In the basement of Double Knot | Photo via Double Knot
Breakfast, 9:30 a.m. // Like Garfield and 10,000 novelty t-shirts, I don’t do mornings. Particularly not ones that haven’t snuck up on me accidentally—the sun rising while I’m still out doing whatever it is that insomniac food editors do—and caught me still in last night’s clothes.
One of the reasons I became a writer was so I’d never have to get up before noon. Sadly, somewhere in my youth I missed an important distinction. Some writers get to sleep the mornings away, sure. They’re generally the ones who own more than zero berets and have strong opinions about pencils. And then there are the ones who actually have to make a living.
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Wok Street, the Southeast Asian fast-casual concept from the team that brought us sushi burritos at Hai Street Kitchen have set their opening date at 1518 Chestnut Street. Wok Street’s first day will be Thursday, May 12th and they’re kicking it off with complimentary lunch at noon for the first 300 people through the door.
Wok Street offers a build-a-bowl concept that starts with rice or noodles and then adds proteins like crispy veggie miso tofu, Szechuan glazed chicken, slow braised soy sauced topped beef or pork. The bowls are then completed with veggies, sauces and toppings like coconut red curry sauce, tangy tamarind sauce, pickled red onion and pickled red peppers to name a few. Wok Street also offers banh mi, summer rolls and salad options.
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Dumplings and Scallion Pancakes at SuGa | Photo by Emily Teel
I love the smell of SuGa. The dim warmth of it. The banquette tables that run along the wall opposite the bar, in the front of the narrow, shotgun space in the middle of Center City. I love the weird, blobby lights that hang down, casting spotlights onto those tables. There’s a drama there that I can appreciate. A sense of controlling the environment.
There’s a sheen to everything at SuGa of newness and polish and efficiency. It’s a new restaurant (not even quite three months old yet) that operates like there are 20-year grooves cut into the floor. Everything is on rails, running with a precision that would make German train engineers jealous. This place represents the culmination of decades of experience—of Susanna Foo’s return to Center City (where she got famous, where she made her name) after closing her namesake Walnut Street restaurant in 2009 and its Radnor offshoot last summer. A veteran returning to the trenches, Foo is backed up by her son Gabriel on the floor (he grew up in the restaurant industry, went to medical school, but then found his way back to restaurants again) and sous chefs Clara Park (who opened SuGa with Foo, then left) and Chris Dougherty (who stepped up when Park left) in the kitchen. There are no amateur mistakes at SuGa. Nothing happens without a reason.
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The Hai Street Kitchen line isn’t this long anymore, but it does still reach the sidewalk. (Photo from May, 2014)
Expect to see more from Hai Street Kitchen & Co. in the near future: this spring, they are opening their third location at The Shops at Liberty Place at 17th and Chestnut Street, just down the block from their original shop. Then in the summer, they’re opening at the King of Prussia Mall, alongside Nicolette Pizzeria, Melt Shop, Shake Shack and the Fat Ham.
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Celebrate Chinese New Year at Bing Bing Dim Sum
When Ben Puchowitz was the chef at Matyson he was known for his always changing tasting menus. In fact we awarded him Best of Philly awards for those menus twice. In honor of the Chinese New Year, he’s going back to the future with a Matyson-style tasting menu at Bing Bing Dim Sum on Passyunk Avenue.
The Year of the Monkey menu will be served on Monday, February 8th and the four-course meal will cost $35 per person. Drink specials including a harmony punch will also be available. Call for reservations (215-279-7702).
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Lox Buns, new at Bing Bing Dim Sum
At Bing Bing Dim Sum, Ben Puchowitz and Shawn Darragh have been constantly tweaking, changing ingredients, methods and menu items since opening six months ago. And now Darragh tells us they’ve found their groove. And with this latest menu, they’re featuring a streamlined menu of dim sum items and shareable large plates.
On this latest menu jump around the world with pork soup dumplings; Everything Pac Man Buns, served with lox, cream cheese and cucumber, to a South Philly inspired roast pork bao with sharp provolone, long hots and spinach.
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Pan fried Bao at Bing Bing Dim Sum
Ben Puchowitz and Shawn Darragh continue to tinker and improve Bing Bing Dim Sum on East Passyunk. After adding happy hour and delivery, they launched weekend lunch with the kickoff of Philly Beer Week.
A week in, they’ve added some brunch-style cocktails including iced Vietnamese coffee; the Bing Bing Mary, tomatillo, pineapple, tamarind, green tabasco, chili paste and pickled jalapeno; and the Java Jawn Cocktail, Vietnamese coffee, sweetened condensed milk, Barbancourt dark rum, topped with coconut palm sugar and whipped cream.
Bing Bing is now open on Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Check out the latest food menu from Bing Bing, which has been tweaked from even a week ago.
Latest Bing Bing menu »
Bing Bing Dim Sum | Photo by Courtney Apple
If restaurateurs were rock stars (and in Philly, they’re as close as we come), Ben Puchowitz and Shawn Darragh would be vintage R.E.M. Whether they’re slinging ramen with brisket and matzo balls, as at Cheu Noodle Bar, or papering the walls of their new Bing Bing Dim Sum with acid-trip dumpling emojis, they have a knack for twisting a budding trend just far enough to make it unmistakably their own. Read more »
Spicy Dan Dan Noodles from V Street | Photo by Chloe Berk
126 S 18th Street
Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby aren’t the first restaurateurs to summon night-market memories with bare bulbs strung beneath a black ceiling. But the globetrotting vegans behind Vedge have uncorked an unusually pent-up desire for street snacks at this energetic offshoot of their stately mother ship.
But eat here and you can feel how long the pressure’s been building to yank every taco and noodle bowl into the meat-and-dairy-free realm. Read more »
When Ben Puchowitz and Shawn Darragh went to Japan, Darragh says they found it dull. Not the place or the scenery or any of that, really, but the food.
He thought the food in Japan was going to be awesome because pretty much everyone assumes that the food in Japan is going to be awesome. Because its like some kind of mystical fairyland where tekka maki grows on trees and everyone is handed a pound of uni and a handful of weird prawn-flavored candy upon clearing customs. But they were there for three weeks doing research for Cheu Noodle Bar and Bing Bing and found the food just…good.
Hong Kong? To hear him explain it, Hong Kong was a little different. Full of dumplings and good times. While we were sitting around inside their new triangle-shaped dumpling shed at that weird intersection where Morris and 12th cross Passyunk, Darragh reminded me of a conversation we’d had over a year ago–about dumplings and dim sum and Hong Kong. He said he thought we’d all been drinking (which is probably true) and that they’d just come home from their Hong Kong trip. We had, apparently, talked at length and I’d complained, loudly and long, about the lack of great dim sum here in Philly.
What killed Darragh and Puchowitz? They’d just made their decision to move forward with Bing Bing but couldn’t say anything about it yet.
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