607 Gorge Rd, Cliffside Park, NJ
The abrupt permanent closure of my favorite Shanghainese-style Chinese restaurant, China 46 in Ridgefield Park, forced me into seeking out alternatives for Xiǎolóngbāo, the elusive “Soup Dumpling” or “Steamed Juicy Bun” that originates from Shanghai and is also a popular dish in Hong Kong and Taipei. It’s also served in a number of Shanghai-style Chinese restaurants in New York City’s Chinatown, such as Joe’s Shanghai, Shanghai Cuisine, and New Green Bo.
Fortunately I had recently heard of another Shanghainese restaurant, Petite Soochow, from another foodie blogger, TommyEats, on a random New Jersey post at the CNET Chowhound forums site. Petite Soochow, which has been in business for just over a year, is the second incarnation of a defunct Shanghainese restaurant in Saddle Brook, Old Soochow. Somehow this place managed to escape earlier notice, but I’m very happy I saw Tommy’s post, because Petite Soochow is probably one of the best authentic Chinese restaurants in Northern NJ.
Petite Soochow in Gorge Road in Cliffside Park.
Your Soup Dumpling supply chain is still intact. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.
Petite Soochow main dining room on a late Sunday morning.
These crullers served with hot soymilk is a popular breakfast item.
An Oyster Pancake with a tomato sauce on top.
House Special Chicken Saute with Eggplant over Scallion Pancake.
Some other dishes on another table — a spicy fish dish and some sort of sauteed scallops dish.
A cold appetizer of Spiced Firm Tofu and Shrimp.
Shanghai Style spare ribs, on another table.
Spring rolls. Although they look like typical Spring Rolls, things are not as they seem.
The insides are stuffed with a Chinese green, scallions and ground pork. These were truly excellent.
Owner Mindy Zhou makes every single dish of dumplings fresh to order.
Here she’s making the Soup Dumplings for us.
Xiaolongbao or Soup Dumplings with Pork. These are probably the best we’ve had in the entire area — juicy with lots of broth in it and heavy on the meat inside. We’ve also had the Crab/Pork version and they are excellent too.
This is a “Chive Box” dumpling, which has egg, chives and cellophane noodles in it. Its big enough to share.
Chive Box cross section.
These are “Pan Fried Juicy Buns”, another specialty of Shanghai. These are stuffed with a similar mixture to the Xiaolongbao, but have a thicker dough and have more of a bun-like consistency. The inside is burning hot filled with a juicy meatball.
Pan Fried Juicy Bun underside.
Pan Fried Juicy Bun interior.
A regular scallion pancake, which was decent, but did not live up to the other items we had.
Shredded Pork with Chinese Chives
A simple plate of sauteed Shanghai Bokchoy and Garlic.
“Three Cup Chicken” which is a 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.
The restaurant is also known for its noodle soups.
On a second visit I had a pork with cabbage noodle soup. The broth is light and simple, and a great dish for a rainy day.
The noodles are thick and Udon-like, with a doughier texture.
Rachel got a seafood noodle soup, which has a much thicker broth with egg in it.
Her soup had thinner egg noodles in it.
One of the staff members cleaning Dou Miu, or pea shoot leaves.
We also ordered some Jiaozi, or simple steamed pork dumplings. These were also excellent.
These fried dumplings that are really more like potstickers, which we got on a different visit are some of the best I’ve ever had. The skins are thin walled and have a great crusty bottom.
We were less happy with these spicy Sichuan-style dumplings in red chile laced sesame oil. These had a really bitter flavor that we didn’t like and Rachel thought they were inedible. Chengdu 1, in Cedar Grove does a much better version of these.
The Shanghai-style Chow Mein Noodles with Beef were excellent. These had a curry flavor to them, although much less pronounced than “Singapore style” chow mei fun noodles that you get at a lot of Chinese takeout places.
This is a Chinese squash dish with Golden Mushrooms. The little red things are these fruity juju-bee things that I was unable to get an exact translation of. Overall the dish was somewhat bland but it would go nice as a vegetable accompaniment to some of the other dishes we’ve had.
Shanghai-Style Lion’s Head Meatballs. A hearty dish, heavily flavored with five spice.
The real hit of our second visit was these fantastic giant heads-on shrimp which were prepared in a garlic ginger sauce. These were fried with a light batter coating.
The same dish on a different visit.
The specials board outside, which apparently has a number of good dishes on it. I can’t read Chinese, but I can tell you that its probably a good idea to pay attention to what the other patrons are eating.