Phyllis Stein-Novack was reunited with Susanna Foo's cooking this week with her review of Suga, the new Center City Chinese restaurant by Foo and her son Gabriel. And despite being branded as "straightforward Chinese", Novack seemed to find a bit of French technique throughout her entire meal:
Chinese eggplant ($10) is a dish I often order in an Asian restaurant. Few chefs have mastered this dish. Foo has, indeed. Chinese eggplants tend to be less bitter than their larger, plumper cousins. The eggplants were cooked in a coconut curry sauce that beautifully enhanced the flavor of the subtle eggplant. The sauce was reduced in the French fashion.
Seafood salad ($18) was a surprise. A cool mound of mixed greens, including radishes and Napa cabbage, was placed on the side of the plate. Slices of ripe avocado were placed near the greens. Warm shrimp, diver scallops, and calamari were along the other side. This is a composed salad in the French style, and it won me over. The dressing on the greens was light and imparted a slight ginger flavor. The sauce on the seafood was also reduced. Each piece of fish was spot on. I've been served rubbery, overcooked shellfish in a number of places. After several attempts, I discovered it is difficult to eat avocado with chopsticks.
Hungry Pigeon, coming off a three-bell win from Craig LaBan, got its Philly Mag review this week. Bottom line, according to Philadelphia's critic Jason Sheehan, breakfast and lunch at the Pigeon is stellar, dinner is inconsistent — a vast difference from LaBan's review three weeks ago. Sheehan specifically didn't care for chef Scott Schroeder's heavy hand when it came to herb-ing up the goat stroganoff:
Until, on top of all this, the kitchen adds a literal pile of rough-cut dill and green herbs so thickly applied, it's like they were dumped on with both hands. It is a distractingly large amount of greenery, and, worse, the rustic, casual, un-fussy way it's chopped leaves the entire dish threaded with stems that are both unpleasant in texture and astringent in flavor and do nothing but get caught in my teeth. From bite to bite I hate the dish, then love it as I catch some resonance between sweetness, sourness and the creamy, warm richness of the sauce and want more.
To which Schroeder responded:
All in all, the review ended up amounting to two stars, "come if you're in the neighborhood", which, really, was what Hungry Pigeon was always hoping to be, an all-day cafe for the neighborhood.