Bing Bing Dim Sum


When I was growing up, my family often went to Chinatown for dinner on Sunday. Wonton soup, egg rolls, chow mein, shrimp and lobster sauce with ice cream for dessert were the usual tasty suspects.

Today, we have many more options when it comes to choosing which Asian cuisine we wish to enjoy, especially in South Philly.

Last month, Ben Puchowitz and Shawn Darragh opened Bing Bing Dim Sum, their much-anticipated dumpling house on East Passyunk Avenue. The two friends made their culinary mark with Cheu Noodle Bar in Center City, a friendly place to slurp bowls of noodle soup and other flavorful dishes with a simple Asian flair.

Bing Bing is exactly the kind of casual restaurant the East Passyunk Crossing neighborhood needs. The place was filled to capacity on a recent Sunday. The hostess made us feel welcome and advised a 45-minute wait. She said we could eat at the bar when seats opened up. After about 10 minutes, we were fortunate to snag two spots.

A glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc ($9) was a fine prelude to Asian fare. It was served in a rocks glass, which I thought was fun. A Bluecoat martini ($11) was served this way as well, adding to the restaurant’s casual tone.

Soup dumplings ($7) were light-as-a-feather little packages of seasoned ground pork filled with pork broth. Be careful, because the broth inside the dumplings is hot. I find it easier to take a bite from the side of the dumpling. They were uncommonly delicious.

I have never tasted a jumbo soup dumpling ($7), but the bartender encouraged us to try it. One large dumpling prepared with a light handkerchief wrapper was placed in the center of a bowl filled with broth made with shrimp, coconut broth and red peppers. All we had to do was tear apart the dumpling and serve ourselves in individual bowls. I especially liked the broth because it was not sweet as some coconut broths can be.

Puchowitz, who is a fine chef, enjoys mixing his Jewish heritage with Asian ingredients. Food should be fun and I liked the fun he had in creating pan-fried bao ($7). This is the closest dish I have had to an Asian knish — a round, savory, flakey pastry that is usually filled with liver, kasha, spinach or seasoned mashed potatoes. This one looks to the Jewish deli, as it was filled with pastrami and Swiss cheese. Instead of using a flakey pastry, the scrumptious ingredients were stuffed inside a steamed bun, like the ones found in dim sum restaurants. It was served with creamy homemade Russian dressing. It is an Asian Reuben.

Jade dumplings ($7) could have charmed anyone from the Emerald Isle. The leeks gave the wrappers a lovely green hue. Leeks are among my favorite vegetables because they add the right touch of sweetness to any dish. The addition of shrimp made the dumplings even better.

Six meaty, not-at-all-greasy chicken wings ($10) would convert anyone who constantly whines, “I am tired of wings.” They had a lovely golden sheen on the outside and were juicy inside. A touch of honey was an inspiration especially when I dipped the wings into a little soy sauce. The addition of pickled jalapeno peppers and cilantro imparted a tasty play with sweet and spice.

Stir-fried green beans have been a staple on Chinese menus ever since the now-shuttered Tang’s on South Street introduced Philadelphians to this dish in the late 1980s. Bing Bing’s version ($8) was a first. The beans were coated in quinoa and stir-fried with fermented garlic, which I previously never tasted. The dish was filled with flavor, although the beans were a little overcooked.

I found the fried cauliflower ($8) a little on the bland side although it was prepared with shrimp salt, lemon and scallions.

Service was excellent. Runners brought out piping hot dishes and offered us bowls and plates for each course. There are a number of gluten-free items on the menu.

I suspect when the weather warms up, Bing Bing will offer outside seating, which will help diminish any wait time. The family-friendly restaurant does not take reservations.

Three-and-a-half tips of the toque to Bing Bing Dim Sum. ""

Bing Bing Dim Sum
1648 E. Passyunk Ave.

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