There’s no doubt that the Cheu brand is a winning concept. Shawn Darragh and Ben Puchowitz struck gold when they opened their inauthentic-by-design ramen bar in Washington Square West. In fact, it was the restaurant’s sheer popularity that attracted Whole Foods in the first place when it was still in the planning stages of its now-year-old Rodin Square location.
But Cheu isn’t exactly an easy operation to run, especially when the space wasn’t designed around the concept like it was in WashWest and, as of July, in Fishtown. Everything’s scratch-made on premises, which is a tough thing for a burn-and-turn quick-serve food stall.
So, today, the guys announced via Cheu’s Instagram that they’ll be closing their Whole Foods outpost for good on Sunday, October 22nd, because “operationally, it wasn’t a food fit.”
Here’s what that means: Read more »
Clockwise from top: beef and kimchi bing, wasabi rice cakes, brisket ramen
When Ben Puchowitz and Shawn Darragh’s opened their ramen shop, Cheu Noodle Bar, there wasn’t a doubt in the world — at least by us (for Puchowitz and Darragh, it was a different story) — that the concept would be a great success. And now, four years in, Cheu Noodle Bar feels classic, like it’s been here for decades, because those guys know how to make a restaurant fit in in Philly. They did it in Washington Square West, and then again with Bing Bing Dim Sum on Passyunk Avenue.
And by the end of this week (Friday, July 21st), they’ll go for three with the opening of Cheu Fishtown at 1416 Frankford Avenue.
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Soup Season: Mushroom Pho – aged fish sauce, sprouts, herbs
Yes, the temperatures are dropping and that means you are probably thinking about soup more often. And if you’re like us, that means thinking about Cheu Noodle Bar more often. Ben Puchowitz and Shawn Darragh’s noodly heaven is set for the weather. Chef Ian Boothman is officially in charge of the kitchen and he’s updated the menu. Also new, Melissa Pellegrino is in as the front-of-house and beverage manager and she’s got some new drinks that she’s added to the menu.
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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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As if the ever-changing menu and new happy hour program at Bing Bing Dim Sum weren’t keeping them busy enough, partners Ben Puchowitz and Shawn Daragh are also shaking things up at Cheu Noodle Bar.
They’ve got five new bowls on the menu, plus some tinkery upgrades, and they’re rolling it all out tonight, starting at 5pm. So for those of you out there who’ve been gorging yourselves on soup dumplings and getting messy with pitchers of ginger-flavored happy juice, maybe it’s time to get back to Shawn and Ben’s original fusion laboratory for a change of pace–or maybe just for some peanut noodles with shrimp and Vietnamese pickles because that sounds awesome right about now.
Cheu Noodle Bar [f8b8z]
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 »
Soup dumpling testing at Bing Bing Dim Sum.
Bing Bing Dim Sum announced today that they passed their health inspection, bringing them closer to finally opening. According to owner Shawn Darragh, the plan is to softly open the week of February 9th and aim for the grand opening on either February 16 or 17.
Ben Puchowitz is currently testing his menu, watch the progress on Facebook and Instagram. But check back here early next week for the final product. Bing Bing will be on happening Passyunk Avenue, opposite of Cantina Los Caballitos.
Bing Bing Dim Sum [Foobooz]
So Bing Bing’s construction has come to a slow halt. However, the opening date is still set for some time in late November or early December of this year–provided everything else goes according to plan from here on out.
With that being said, the interior of Bing Bing Dim Sum sounds pretty cool, featuring booths converted from antique Chinese day beds and a large community table that seats 12.
And now we know a few things about the menu as well.
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Soup dumpling testing at Cheu Noodle Bar
A very satisfying lunch at Cheu Noodle Bar was made that much better with some information on Shawn Darragh’s and Ben Puchowitz’s East Passyunk’s venture. Darragh told me that the 50-seat (plus another 30-seats outdoors) restaurant will be called Bing Bing. Bing is Cantonese for dumplings and Bing Bing is just more fun to say. The former El Zarape will be a dim sum house with a large selection of dumplings and buns.
If all goes well, Darragh and Puchowitz will have their take on dim sum cranking by Labor Day.
Shawn Darragh and Ben Puchowitz have signed a lease for the current El Zarape at 12th, Passyunk and Morris Streets. Passyunk Post has the details on what will not be another Cheu Noodle Bar but a different Asian concept. No doubt inspired by Darragh and Puchowitz’s recent trip through Asia.
El Zarape will be open through March 14th, when it will move to 1304 S 9th Street.
Huge! Owners of Cheu Noodle Bar plan second restaurant in El Zarape space [Passyunk Post]