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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Wander into SuGa for a late lunch and you might be joined by Sinatra crooning through My Way, then Strangers in the Night, and then My Way, again, this time recorded a few decades later. He’s there each day from 3:00 until 4:00, a request by Susanna Foo herself, an hour of big band standards to get through the afternoon lull.
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Brunch is now being served at Suga
Susanna Foo’s Center City restaurant SuGa launches brunch this weekend. Brunch is served at the Sansom Street restaurant from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Highlights include Maryland Crab Egg Fu Yung; Creme Brûlée French Toast and Shrimp Rice Congee.
Brunch drinks include a kimchi Bloody Mary and the Lotus blossom, a balanced drink featuring vodka, Cointreau and passion fruit.
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Pork Potstickers at SuGa
Wednesday night I checked in at SuGa, Susanna Foo’s return to Center City. Foo, whose eponymous Walnut Street restaurant once set the bar for Asian food in Philadelphia, is back in the restaurant game with her son Gabriel Foo. The restaurant’s concepts are executed by executive chef, Clara Park and sous chef, Chris Dougherty. The long space, dominated by blonde wood and a dark bar opened quietly over the weekend and after a night off on Monday, began offering dinner service on Tuesday.
The restaurant filled up nicely on a night when the evening’s big news was a tornado watch for Philadelphia. Foo fans and the curious filled the tables and bar, ordering potstickers, dumplings and Kung Pao chicken.
The draft beer wasn’t operational yet, several of the dumpling options weren’t available and the happy hour menu, which is listed online isn’t being offered till next week. It is the definition of a soft launch.
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La Creperie closes as Suga prepares to open.
La Creperie Cafe at 1722 Sansom Street has closed after 18 years. The French BYOB specialized in crepes and also offered Sunday brunch. But with prices of all the crepes starting north of $10 and some hitting $18, it never seemed that crowded a spot and as lunchtime competition boomed, it isn’t particularly surprising the cafe closed.
A sign on the door (in English and French) explained La Creperie was still available for catering.
The long narrow space is directly next to Susanna Foo’s Suga, which looked to be in its final stages of construction this afternoon.
A look at the construction at SUGA on December 1st.
Philadelphians have been eagerly awaiting the return of Susanna Foo to Center City Philadelphia. The chef who owned the highly acclaimed Susanna Foo on Walnut Street for 22 years, closed her eponymous restaurant in 2009. In July of 2014 she announced her return to Center City and now there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Though the accompanying photo shows there’s still a ways to go before Susanna Foo opens SUGA at 1720 Sansom Street, there is news to report. The restaurant has a Facebook page as well as a slick new logo. And on the Facebook page, the restaurant has teased out several of the dishes that will make the final menu.
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Susanna Foo Gourmet Kitchen has been open in Radnor for nine years. But on Sunday, June 14th the Chinese restaurant will close. But as Foo herself says, “when one door closes, another opens.” Foo and her son Gabriel are closing to focus on their next project, SuGa at 1720 Sansom Street. SuGa will mark Foo’s return to Center City. Between 1987 to 2009, Susanna Foo was one of the most highly regarded restaurants in the city.
SuGa is looking to open this fall. Susanna Foo Gourmet Kitchen will be running specials now through its Sunday closing.
Originally SuGa was to have Susanna Foo’s chef de cuisine Anne Coll in the kitchen, but Coll recently signed up with Chester County’s Whip Tavern.
Susanna and Gabriel Foo sent the following letter out to their customers today.
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Anne Coll has been named as the new executive chef of the Whip Tavern in West Marlborough, Chester County. Coll has worked for Susanna Foo at the original Walnut Street restaurant as well as Susanna Foo Gourmet Kitchen in Radnor. Coll also had a successful run at Meritage where she brought the Korean taco rage to Philadelphia, among other successes.
Coll was to be the chef for Foo’s return to Center City, but in taking the exec chef spot at the Whip, Coll will work much closer to her home, where she has a farm and a pet pig named Jenny.
At the Whip, Coll will work closely with Chester and Lancaster County growers to create traditional pub and local dishes. Coll starts June 8th and menu changes will follow.
Whip Tavern [Foobooz]
Although news of Susanna Foo’s return to Center City was released yesterday, things are still up in the air as to when exactly that will be. And if you can’t handle the suspense, well…we can’t do anything about that. But what we can do is give you the scoop on Susanna Foo’s Weekend of Lobster Dinners in Radnor.
Starting Friday, July 25, and going until Sunday, July 27, head out to the Main Line for some good eats and cheap prices (when it comes to lobster). For $39, each guest can enjoy 3 courses – 2 courses of Asian Fusion lobster-style meals, plus 1 course to satisfy your sweet tooth. Dishes include Lobster Claw Tempura with Pei Mussels, Roasted Maine Lobster & Diver Scallop, and Jersey Peach Cobbler.
Make your reservations by calling 610-688-8808 or by clicking here.
Take a peak at the full menu »
Susanna Foo’s return to Center City now has an address. A liquor license application recently appeared at 1720 Sansom Street and the application is in the name of Susanna Foo. The former home of Genji has long been shuttered, and also suffered a fire. This morning, the sounds of hammers was clear as renovations are already underway. 1720 Sansom Street is a two-floor space with 1,935 square feet on the ground floor and an additional 1,636 available in the basement for storage and refrigeration. Foo will reunite with her longtime chef Anne Coll, who left Meritage earlier this year at the new restaurant. No word on an opening date, and according to Michael Klein, he’s hearing the name will be Suga. Foo left Center City back in 2009 after a praise-filled run on Walnut Street. The new location will be under three blocks from her original downtown Susanna Foo. She also still owns Susanna Foo Gourmet Kitchen in Radnor. Suga [Foobooz]