When I heard that the brain trust behind Cheu Noodle Bar was going to open up a Dim Sum restaurant in South Philly, I couldn't help but get excited. When they brought on Top Chef and Sampan alum Travis Masar, I had a good feeling that my taste buds would be sent a-tingling.
Before you raise a stink about Asian fusion and the like, don't go in expecting authentic dim sum. Rather, appreciate the amalgamation of two great cultures embodied in the form of small plates Jew-Asian cuisine.
The interior is very hipster-chic, with plenty of red lighting. Perhaps in reference to the Chinese color representing luck? You can see into the kitchen and on this particular night, you could clearly catch a glimpse of Chef Masar hard at work.
Tiger Style [$30 pitcher / $9 glass]
Bourbon, oolong tea, all-spice tamarind dram, plum wine, lemon, ginger cider
The GF and I came with a friend of ours and we all decided to indulge in a pitcher of this bourbon-based tipple. Mixed with oolong tea and plum wine, the bourbon was nicely tempered. Smooth, mellow, and subtly saccharine with a nice hit of spice from the ginger. Easy drinking.
Scarlet Dumplings [$7]
Red beet, tofu, crispy garlic
The GF's favorite had to be the scarlet dumplings. The beet essence was light and the dumplings were expertly made. The crispy garlic offered some texture in contrast with the tofu.
Spicy Cucumber Salad [$8]
Tofu, watercress, sesame chile oil
I couldn't help but think of Han Dynasty's spicy cucumber when ordering this dish. I still think my favorite rendition resides at Han Chiang's Old City outpost, but second best isn't anything to scoff at! The lingering spice from the sesame chile oil permeated the tofu, with the crisp bit of acidic cucumber shining through.
BBQ pork, caramelized honey, sesame seed
The caterpillar bread is a must order in my mind. So much so that I almost ordered another. The lacquered and crispy exterior was studded with sesame seeds and lent way to savory, sweet BBQ pork within. A stunner.
Sharp provolone, long hots, spinach
The roast pork bao was another favorite of mine. The crisp on the outside was outstanding - better executed than even the pan-fried dumplings at Dim Sum Garden. A testament to the kitchen's skills, especially due to the size of these dumplings. And what lay beneath the exterior? A gluttonous melange of well-seasoned pork and sharp provolone, along with some smoky spice from the long hots.
Miso ramen flavor
Admittedly, Dim Sum Garden's iteration still reigns supreme as Philly's XLB king, mainly due to their gossamer-thin wrapper. But Bing Bing has got it going with theirs as well. In fact, we went ahead and got a second order while we were still finishing up the first. The miso ramen flavor had a nice depth and the accompanying soy and ginger lent way to a nice sweet and vinegary interplay.
Green Mango & Papaya Salad [$9]
Peanut, shiso, air dried beef
Northern Thai offerings are severely lacking in Philly. But please do get a taste of it with Bing Bing's take on the mango and papaya salad. The contrast in textures and sweet, sour, spicy, savory flavors - it's all there. Chef Masar's passion for Thai cuisine is clearly evident.
Matzo meal, fried egg, maple, bonito
Another gorgeously delicious dish? The turnip cake was wonderfully fried, with a delicately crisp crust. The bonito added umami to each bite and who can say no to a fried egg, which oozed additional savoriness.
BBQ pork, shrimp, crab, fried egg, flat chive
The fried rice was a hearty offering, featuring plenty of BBQ pork, snappy shrimp, sweet crab, and of course, a fried egg. Perfect to mix and provide additional richness to each bite.
Wok Fried Udon Noodles [$14]
Pressed tofu, mushroom, pea leaves, satay sauce
Not to be outdone, the udon seemed fresh and had wonderful bite. Sweet and savory came through here, with the satay sauce coating the firm tofu, mushrooms, and pea leaves.
If you're heading over during prime time hours, be prepared to wait - or reserve a table through the Reserve app. Download it on your phone and use code X10VXZ to get $10 off your bill. Full disclosure - I get a referral credit too! Lastly, keep in mind Bing Bing doesn't have dim sum carts rolling about. Rather, you order from the set menu and the dishes come out as they're prepared in the kitchen. I'd recommend ordering a few dishes at a time, otherwise you might be overwhelmingly inundated. But there I go again, assuming everyone else also orders pretty much the entire menu.