After opening one of the most successful restaurants in Philadelphia history (Susanna Foo, 1987-2009), then transplanting to the Main Line to open a second venture (Susanna Foo Gourmet Kitchen, 2006-2015), most restaurateurs would retire. Not Susanna Foo.
Foo, now 72, has been known to work six or seven-day work weeks since the late 70s. When asked if she was tired, she responded with an effortless, "Everyone thinks I'm happier than before. It's a little crazy." The week of February 22, SUGA will open at 1720 Sansom Street, and this time around, she's partnered with her son Gabriel Foo.
"Cooking is always changing, cuisines are always changing," says Foo. Back in the day, her eponymous restaurant was considered to be one of the nation's best Asian fusion restaurants. But that was years ago; nowadays, diners want the real thing. Executive sous chef Clara Park (SouthGate opening chef) and sous chef Chris Dougherty (previously of Ulivo and Conshohocken's Black Fish) are working with Susanna to give them just that. Using local farms (Green Meadow Farm, Zone 7, Jamison Farm and Common Market among them), the three kitchen vets will bring forth purely-Chinese classics for the modern palate.
Inside, Eimer Design created a dōjō-like aesthetic: clean lines, sharp angles, gorgeous lighting fixtures, and a stunning mural of a woman in Mongolian regalia. The front bar area will be walk-in only, and the rest of the space, broken up into two dining rooms downstairs and two dining rooms upstairs (separated by a spiral staircase) is up for grabs via reservations. Gabriel is working with SUGA's bartenders to create a cocktail menu which complements the cuisine. Think lychee, mango, and passion fruit drinks, alongside tropical Asian classics, like the Mai Tai and Singapore Sling.
SUGA will start off with lunch service Monday-Friday and dinner service nightly, with two happy hours: 5-7 p.m. and then again from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Come March, the Foos will launch brunch on weekends. Examples of the menus are now live on the restaurant's website, but they are subject to change up until opening day.
Official menus and pictures are on their way. Stay tuned.