Feel the burn. I never thought my column about food in Philly would cause such distress among readers. It was both entertaining and fascinating to hear what you had to say in your e-mails. So please, keep writing to me. Let out that anger, anguish and tongue-lashing, because I honestly loved every bit. Hey, at least you’re reading this, right?
OK, now that business is out of the way, let’s get back to why we all are here: food. Being a Jersey girl, sometimes growing up in the ‘burbs felt like growing up in downtown Tokyo. I was immersed in Asian culture and food – not just the take-out Asian restaurant kind – before I could even find half those countries on a map.
Restaurants popped up all over my small town in the mid-90s that featured sushi, lunch buffets, Japanese grills and Asian cuisine fused with other foods.
As kids in school, we thought it was great to be so ‘multicultural’ because it meant extra holiday parties. From sticky rice to candied carrots with almonds and homemade sushi, ‘trading’ food at lunch or snack time was never dull. Moving to Philly three years ago, I knew that there wouldn’t be a lack of food to remind me of my diverse neighborhood.
If you have been hunting for a cheaper (or maybe “affordable”) place to enjoy Japanese food, Genji Japanese Cuisine in University City has one of the best sushi selections I have seen.
Lunch prices are obviously cheaper (most entrees are under $15, sushi under $20), yet the menu is still packed with sushi and sashimi options. Dinner will probably cost more than $20 a person, but the selection of expertly sliced fish and seafood will astonish you. The decor is plain, but the restaurant is in a basement, so don’t expect too much. For the older crowd, their imported sake is definitely worth the splurge.
Another option for great Asian food is Susanna Foo on Restaurant Row on Walnut Street. According to fellow culinary students, this place is expensive, so exercise caution when ordering if you are on a budget.
For a ‘tasting’ at dinner, plan to spend $65 before taxes and tip for five courses. For lunch, however, a three-course menu is $25. Basically, you pick something from three out of the four categories for your meal.
I actually got to meet Susanna Foo, whose style of food is Chinese mixed with French elements. The dumplings we made with her in class were enough to make me want to check her place out.
Step away from the mystery brown sauce on that (still delicious) chicken and broccoli, and try something not so traditional for Asian food.
And send me more mail.
Brianna Barry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.