On rainy nights you’ll often find my husband and I at a soupy dumpling joint, and this week in Philly was no exception.
Once again, our love for food beat our hatred of miserable weather, and we ventured out into the wet night; just two hungry foodies in love.
Thanks to the internet these days it only takes a few clicks to fulfill your foodie dreams, and before we knew it we’d located a restaurant less than 3 blocks from our hotel. Perfect.
This is Jane G’s, located on Chestnut street in Rittenhouse Square, Philly.
From the outside it doesn’t look like much.
It’s a Szechuan Chinese restaurant, which means it’s a style of cooking from the Sichuan province in the southwest of China.
A fun fact is that the Sichuan province is home of the giant panda, and also houses a stretch of river which is the longest in Asia – the Yangtze. The Szechuan cuisine is known to be bold flavored, and heavy handed with spices such as garlic, pepper, and chilli. It is also linked with the Sichuan pepper, which is a type of peppercorn.
Of course my outline here does not define the cuisine fully, as there are many sub cuisines in the region, and variations on cooking, but you’re at least a little more familiar now.
Inside, the restaurant was dimly lit, with low and relaxing instrumental music.
A full bar was located on the left, and the dining space stretched over a large area. (From the outside we would have no idea that all of this space existed.)
I followed my husband through the sea of tables, and took my jacket off at our very own spot for two.
It felt nice to be inside, out of the rain, as I reached across the table for my husbands cold hands to hold.
Our waitress greeted us happily and placed menus at our table.
Upon feeling my cold touch my husband immediately ordered a hot sake to share, and I realized in that moment that maybe we really do think alike after all this time in each other’s company.
The menu had a lot going on, and although pictures where hard to take with the lighting and my cameras focus, I still insisted on taking each and every one.
Have a look for yourself.
In the end my husband and I decided we would just get pork soupy dumplings and beef scallion pancakes.
With a hot sake each in hand my husband and I discussed our day, sipping away, as we waited for our food to arrive.
The smells coming from the kitchen where making my stomach grumble wildly, and I could have sworn that all of my senses became instantly more alert as I grew eager to know of the secrets within.
One smell that really caught my attention was garlic; it was so pungent and delicious that I’d have happily eaten a whole bulb of roasted garlic at this point and cried happy tears in the process.
As I started to tell my husband about a soupy dumpling recipe I’d seen online, and planned to make, our little beauties came gliding through the restaurant leaving a steaming trail of love.
They where, to the eye, the same as any other good soupy dumpling my husband and I had had the pleasure of trying in the past.
As we waited for them to cool down, enough to destroy them one at a time, the beef scallion pancakes arrived as though they’d just appeared magically on the table.
They looked, without a doubt, absolutely delightful.
However, instantly my husband and I – being the non-sharing food type – noticed that the plate only housed 3 pancake portions, and made eye contact immediately.
Time seemed to pass slowly as we stared into each other’s eyes – you could cut the tension with a knife – but of course my husband, being the gentleman he is, quickly grabbed his knife and sliced one in half.
In that moment we both noticeably released a sigh of relief and laughed together.
Sharing food has never being our strong point; it’s nothing personal, we just know that after all this time we need ‘his’ and ‘hers’ plates – ha.
We picked a scallion beef pancake up in unison, and matched our movements as we took the first bite, never breaking eye contact.
It was beyond any expectation I’d had. The outside was crisp and yet perfectly soft with a savory crepe likeness. The beef (which tasted as though it had been sliced straight from a roast) was succulent and juicy, and the scallions cooked into the batter where an added crunch and tang that paired perfectly as a whole.
If I had to put a time on the consumption of these scrumptious pancakes I’d say they lasted all of 1 minute.
As I finished my last bite I saw my husband match me across the table, his eyes where wide and he was nodding like a bobble head in the back window of a car.
If we didn’t have soupy dumplings waiting for us on the table, I would have happily ordered 3 more plates of the beef scallion pancakes; they where just that good.
After devouring our first taste of Jane G’s restaurant bliss we moved onto the dumplings.
I pulled the basket towards me, peering down on them as though I was stalking my prey.
The smell hit my nostrils. I could smell porky goodness, the delicate dough aroma that’s almost close to flour, that only a steamed dumpling lover will know well.
I simply couldn’t wait any longer. After a quick touch of my forefinger I confirmed the dumpling was cooled enough to shove into my mouth as a unit.
A quick dunk in the soy sauce, black vinegar, and fresh ginger dipping sauce was all I needed to make this little guy stomach ready in a matter of seconds.
I closed my mouth around the little parcel, and felt the explosion of soup in my mouth as I broke it’s flexible skin; instantly I knew we’d found ourselves some dumplings worth writing about.
I’d like to point out that it’s either hit or miss with soupy dumplings; they either lack flavor and the pork becomes a lump of heavy regret, or they are so full of flavor, and the pork so tender and juicy that you literally almost dribble on yourself.
These where of the latter description, and I found myself raising a napkin to my lips to capture any escaping liquid that might try to break out.
That delicious fatty pork broth was so rich and flavorful that I could have drank a gallon of the soup, along with the added pork, in one sitting. The thin delicate dumpling wrappers had definitely been homemade, and based on the quality it was by an experienced hand.
I was in dumpling heaven, along with my husband, and in that moment nothing else existed; it was as though the restaurant had vanished, and all that was left was our little table. I swear I couldn’t even hear the music anymore, as I chewed each dumpling in blissful silence, concentrating on how fabulous they actually where.
I’d also like to note that on not so good dumplings, in the past, the broth was light and not very flavorful. As you can see from the picture above, these dumpling where rich, and full of color, which you could tell just by looking at them.
The mix of black vinegar, soy sauce, and ginger for the dipping sauce was one of the best blends I’ve had in a long time, and as my husband smashed my dreams of more soupy dumpling baskets with a request for a drink in bed and a good tv show. I agreed and happily savored the last little dumpling with closed eyes.
In hindsight I’d realize that he’d saved me from eating myself into a food coma, and that a cured meat and cheese plate in bed with a glass of red wine was a perfect way to end the night.
We would be back for more dumplings and pancakes!
Thank you Jane G’s for a simple, yet delicious dinner that we enjoyed thoroughly.
Until next time,
(If you enjoyed this review you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @AHangryWife )