I hate people who are not serious about their meals. -- Oscar Wilde

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Petite Soo Chow- ain't nothinh petite about the food

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: When you can see people making the dumplings, it is a good sign

In searching for good soup dumplings led me to Cliffside Park New Jersey to Petite Soochow. I have actually been to this place before when I was younger when it was originally opened in Upper Saddle River but it closed. Petite Soo Chow reopened a few years ago at this location and has been going strong. Petite Soo Chow specializes in Shanghai style food which includes soup dumplings. I unfortunately had a bad soup dumpling experience in New Jersey and I needed soup dumpling redemption and a reason to have faith in New Jersey food again.

A good sign of good soup dumplings

This place gets crowded and full really fast. They will do Chinatown style seating in which they will throw people together at the same tables. So if you have a party of three, and there is a table that seats eight, do not be surprised if you are seated there along with a family of four. I originally was uncomfortable with this kind of seating because you will sometimes have that one kid or old grandma that like stares at you while you are eating. I am not an animal, STOP LOOKING AT ME! But I have gotten used to it and if it is a little kid staring at me while I am eating, I will stare back and make faces at him and make him laugh and hopefully get him in trouble with his strict Asian parents (GOTCHA!). 

Food Porn After the Jump!

Dumplings...with soup

To start off this meal, we started off with an order of pork soup dumplings and the pork and crab combination of soup dumplings. Unlike the Din Tai Fung soup dumplings in Taiwan which were light and delicate these were big heifers and were generous with the filling.

Inside shot of soup dumplings

The Din Tai Fung soup dumplings are like those under aged Chinese gymnast in the Olympics: petite, light and delicate looking. The ones here are Petite Soochow (which I just realized is a bit of an oxymoron) is like the Russian woman weightlifter: big, heavy and fills every space of that spandex suit (shudders). Although these were not like the typical soup dumplings I was used to, these were probably the best I had in New Jersey. The ample filling still had a good amount of soup in the dumpling and the dumpling skin was almost tissue thin still giving it that delicate texture.

Scallion Pancakes

Petite Soochow not only have dumplings, but have many other dishes as well. Not only did we get the soup dumplings to start out with, we got an order of scallion pancakes and Luo buo si bing which is traditionally flatbread that is filled with shredded radish but this one is a slight variation in which it more of a cake or bun. The Scallion pancake had a crispy exterior and tender interior however it cried for salt, thankfully it was nothing that could not be solved without some hot soy bean paste and soy. 

Luo buo si bing
The Bing was flaky and was overfilled with shredded radish, scallions and had the surprising addition of dried small shrimps which gave it an extra kick of savory and briney.

Buffalo fish belly

Belly meat of any animal is always tasty, so why not get fish belly? This was Buffalo fish belly served with a thick sweet soy sauce. This is generally on the “secret” Chinese menu because the texture of fish belly is unbelievable, it has a silken texture and the meat is juicy and soft. However, it requires serious eating skills because there are quite a few bones that come in all shapes and sizes that can easily become a choking hazard for those that have grown up eating only filet of fish.

Lion head meatballs- no lions unfortunately
One dish that is good enough reason to come here, besides the dumplings is the Lion Head Meatballs which is what they are called in English. These meatballs are not like the ones your Grandma from Sicily makes; this is at a total different level and there is no gravy. You only get three meatballs, which anywhere else you would think you are getting ripped off but these meatballs are the size of pomelos or softballs. They are huge, yet the reason these are special and hard to make is that they are deceptively light. It is like eating angel cake or a Care Bear. Just touching it with a soup it instantly crumbles like ancient ruins and they are delectably luscious and has the slightest hint of ginger. They are served in a soup that is filled with rice noodles and cabbage making this a meal alone for a whole family. The broth is worth mentioning too, it is a balance between subtle sweetness and savory notes that I am sure would cure any cold. I have tried many versions of this and the one at Petite Soo Chow gets it right.

Lion head meatball, that's like a 1/3 of it and it takes up the majority of the bowl

Petite Soo Chow has many Shanghai dishes that are a must try and is worth a venture out to Cliffside Park. The parking lot is very, tight and on a slant so street parking is your best bet. It is also about 20 minutes from Mitsuwa Market so you can make a whole day trip, or eating trip out of it.

Petite Soo Chow
607 Gorge Rd
Cliffside Park, NJ 07010

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