I have always held a deep love for Chinese food. On Christmas and other major holidays when most restaurants close I could always rely on the Chinese takeout around the corner to have their lights on and hot noodles to satisfy me. Fast forward to my move to Philadelphia years later and much more refined palate. I fell in love with Chinatown, Philadelphia but a modern-upscale Chinese restaurant was most definitely needed.
Who better to fill this void than culinary pioneer, Susanna Foo? When I heard that she was returning to the Center City dining scene to open SUGA with her son, Gabriel Foo, I had to try it.
Susanna has been acknowledged as one of the best Chinese chefs in the country by USA Today and hailed as an innovator by Gourmet, Food & Wine, Esquire and The New York Times. With two cookbooks and two James Beard Awards, Foo is highly decorated in the food world and knows that altering the ordinary is the key to success.
SUGA, opened in March 2016 and gets its name from (Su)sanna and (Ga)briel Foo. You cannot miss this restaurant off 17th and Sansom with its bold over-sized red door. The interior of the restaurant features a large bar with phenomenal and unique cocktails. There is also some outdoor seating and upstairs private dining rooms which seats 10-12. The decor pays homage to her past restaurants with the plates. Lighting fixtures are from her Radnor, PA restaurant as well as mirrors from the Walnut Street restaurant.
Susanna Foo’s influences are derived from her upbringing in Taiwan, and her training at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. “Modern Chinese” is the fusion of classical Chinese and fresh Western ingredients with Foo’s signature French style of cooking.
SUGA sources its products locally from suppliers such as Highland Orchards, True Leaf Greens, and Pequea Valley Farm. The menu does an excellent job of offering some traditional Northern Chinese plates such as Shaking Beef made with beef shoulder tenderloin, ramp, fennel, sun dried tomato, and gailan or Kung Pao Chicken with mushroom, snap pea, peanut, and red pepper. While introducing new dishes inspired by Susanna’s travels such as a Shrimp Rice Congee with Parmigiano-Reggiano, brown butter, pickled vegetable, sunny side up egg (available for brunch) modeled after Shrimp and Grits she enjoyed while staying in the South.
SUGA is open for lunch, dinner, and brunch. Reservations can easily be made via Opentable. Do not miss these happy hour drink and food specials Monday-Friday 5-7pm, as well as late night happy hour Friday-Saturday 10-12pm! A beautiful bar, Dan Dan noodles, and hand-crafted cocktails? This just may become my new go-to happy hour spot.
For dessert we loved the Warm Upside Down Pineapple Cake with coconut kaffir lime ice cream, cashew-pink-peppercorn crunch, and pineapple chip. The Coconut Rice Pudding was also beautiful and light with edible flowers, mango sorbet, champagne mango, and kiwi. I would definitely recommend you save room for dessert!
SUGA is not to be missed bringing a true fine dining experience to Center City, Philadelphia. This mother and son make a killer team with a restaurant run flawlessly while executing the best in modern Chinese cuisine. Be sure to stop by here and check it out.
We would like to thank Gabril Foo for allowing us to stop by Suga and sample some of their delicious menu items.