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Restaurants & Bars

Pennsylvania Restaurant Closings Sichuan

Chinatown news (s&c closing, szechuan tasty house)

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Chinatown news (s&c closing, szechuan tasty house)

joypirate | Aug 4, 2005 02:51 PM

One of my favorites is going the way of Dodo: the S & C Café at 900 Arch had become a regular lunch hour stop. They had a fine Banh Mi Vietnamese hoagie made by a loving little Vietnamese woman who had a secret stash of Thai bird’s eye chilis for those of us in the know. Light lunches aren’t super easy to find in Chinatown and you can get some well-made spring rolls here as well as a tasty salad with Vietnamese meatballs (sausage) over greens and vermicelli.

I was talking to the owner’s daughter yesterday (she stopped me on the sidewalk, yes, I go there quite a bit) and said they were to close the deal yesterday afternoon. The owner (the older Vietnamese woman) ran it with her two daughters and some help. One daughter was going away to school and the other had another job, so the mother was looking to relax for awhile. Too bad. Great food and a really nice family. I initially ignored this place because it looked like a sub shop at a glance with cheesesteaks and hotdogs on the menu, not really something I’d seek out in Chinatown. Further inspection revealed good homemade fare. I don’t believe it will necessarily close, just be under new management with new cooks and could therefore go in any direction.

In other news, Szechuan Tasty House continues to impress at 902 Arch Street. The dumplings in spicy sauce are among the best I’ve ever had. Small dumplings (sort of made in a shark-fin style like you’d see at dim sum, thought not fried) floating in a sea of chili and soy broth and approximately 10-15 cloves of garlic minced over top (my breath could peel paint).

They include a judicious dose of Sichuan Peppercorns in the oily chili broth (if you’re not a fan of oil, this isn’t for you). This particular spice delivers a mouth numbing sort of spiciness not seen with other sorts of spice (the sensation itself is called “ma la” I believe, correct me if I’m wrong). The menu is a bit more expanded since the last time I’ve been. The girl behind the register speaks decent English and can give you the low down on the Chinese menu (there’s two menus). She pointed out a spicy duck in Sichuan sauce that I’ve got in my crosshairs for next time. Also, Dan Dan noodles are still good as ever.

The Sichuan Peppercorns had previously been under a trade ban but that’s recently been lifted. Really, Sichuan places were still using them (I even bought some personally from under a counter in Boston’s Chinatown), now it’s just officially ok. They carry something that can wreak havoc on citrus crops but now they’ve got a treatment process that takes care of that without really compromising the taste (I think it’s a light toasting).

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