The Last Supper with David


New York Times’ David Corcoran, who’s wonderful restaurant reviews have graced the “Old Gray Lady’s” NJ Metro/Dining section for 10 years.

My foray into food blogging has almost certainly had much to do with my respect and admiration for the newspaper writers, who’s level of reviewing standards I could never even try to emulate with any degree of success.

The print newspaper and magazine staff restaurant writer is a dying breed, one who’s role has had to change with the times, if not for the challenges that newspapers and  other periodicals must now face in competition with the food blogs and other new media outlets.

That being said, I am sad to see this occur, even if I am a willing participant and advocate in this change of focus towards the Web.

Perhaps one of my saddest moments in this realization was a happy occasion — having a wonderful Chinese dinner with a newspaper restaurant reviewer that I call a friend and mentor, who had told me that this meal would be his final review.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

I have known David Corcoran for as long as I have been food blogging and involved in the Web. Indeed, Off The Broiler itself would probably not have been launched had it not been for his influence in getting my Quick Bites features published in the New York Times, which  ran (along with pieces from other Quick Bite contributors during the same time period) starting the Fall of  2004 through February of 2006.

His reviews have graced the New Jersey metro section for 10 years, and my relationship with him began around the time I founded eGullet.com with Steven Shaw, back in 2001. David will not be disappearing from the writing scene altogether, he will still be Assistant Editor for the main Science Times section, of which I am also a huge fan, given my geek DNA.

But not to have his voice in the New Jersey restaurant scene at the Times will be a huge loss. While genuinely I look forward to meeting and reading the works of his successors, Scott Veale and David Halbfinger  — nobody can replace the passion that this man brought to to New Jersey restaurant scene.

On to happier things. Food.

We met at Petite Soochow restaurant, one of my favorite authentic Chinese eateries in Northern New Jersey. Unlike many authentic Chinese restaurants in the area which are typically Hong-Kong focused, Soochow is Shanghainese, which is one of the rarer regional Chinese cuisine varieties for this area of New Jersey.

Also Read: NJ Dining – Petite Soochow

Petite Soochow has become my go-to Shanghainese restaurant ever since my favorite, China 46 in Ridgefield closed in September of 2007. I still haven’t gotten over the loss, but Soochow is a wonderful place to get my fix on some of my favorite Shanghainese and Taiwanese dishes.

For this glorious and final meal, we were joined by my close friend Rosie Saferstein, who writes the Table Hopping with Rosie column for New Jersey Monthly.

These pickled cucumbers are not like the Jewish Deli type, but they are just as addictive. They’re sweet, a little bit sour, and a little spicy.

Chinese fava bean appetizer. These were quite starchy but I loved the Five Spice seasoning on them. They didn’t get left over.

You can’t leave Petite Soochow without ordering at least one order of the Soup Dumplings, or XiaoLongBao. You need to scoop these little purses up with a Chinese soup spoon while grabbing the “nipple” on the top with a set of tongs, bite on them and let the hot juice run out into your mouth. It sounds almost sexual, and … well, it is. I also like to hit these with a little bit of the Chinese black vinegar condiment which they serve it with.

These are another type of dumping, the fried Chive Boxes. They are empanada-sized.

The Chive box interior is composed of Chives, Eggs, onions, scallions, garlic and other vegetables. It also has some glass noodles in it for added texture.

Ta Loo Mein, a type of thick noodle soup with seafood that originates from Taiwan. Many Shanghainese emigrated to Taiwan during the 1920s and 1930s and developed a Shanghainese/Taiwanese cuisine.

“Three Cup Chicken” which is also another Taiwanese chicken dish cooked in an earthenware casserole. This version used chicken pieces with skin and bone on it versus boneless chicken. Very tasty, but you need to pick it apart with your fingers.

Sauteed Snow Pea Leaves (Dou Miu) with garlic. Who said green vegetables weren’t yummy?

Giant Prawns in Chili and Garlic Sauce. Petite Soochow does a wonderful job with seafood.

Dumpling time again. These were pan fried pork dumplings and they went pretty fast.

These curious looking pastries have a lotus/red bean paste and a fig paste. Chinese desserts are not as sweet as their Western counterparts.

A toast, to 10 wonderful years. Thank you David, for everything you’ve done for restaurant writing for Northern New Jersey. You’ll be missed. Now, can I interest you perhaps in a blogging gig?

David Corcoran’s April 28 review of Petit Soochow can be read here, at NYTimes.com.

Petite Soochow
607 Gorge Rd, Cliffside Park, NJ
(201) 313-1666

3 Responses to The Last Supper with David

  1. What a lovely post, Jason! I read the Petite Soochow review with sadness, knowing it would be David’s last review. He has been an enormous inspiration to me. Lucky you and Rosie!

  2. Melissa says:

    Love the photography! Looks like a great meal! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Wow, the pictures are phenomenal!!! I’m literally drooling! Petite Soochow is def where I will be visiting soon. Thanks for the post and the mouthwatering pictures!

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