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>> Susanna Foo
1512 Walnut St.
Tel: +1 215-545-2666
From cooking in a local restaurant, to becoming the reigning empress in her own eponymous restaurant, Susanna Foo has leveraged her star status with not only her restaurant, but also with a cookbook and numerous guest appearances on TV. Where she shines most brightly is in this dramatic venue, another triumph on Restaurant Row for decorator Marguerite Rodgers. This sweep of soft taupe and mirrors painted with cherry blossoms and birds is not your everyday Chinese restaurant. In fact, walls lined with wicker, parchment-fringed fixtures, faux painting, and almost perfect lighting do not speak of any particular culture, just good taste. Nor does her menu immediately strike you as Chinese, for in what other Asian-inspired spot could you choose between foie gras and sweetbreads as an appetizer? Foo has extensive French training, yet her dim sum is impeccable. Pan-fried pork dumplings, veal raviolis spiced with ancho chilies, fried chicken dumplings, delicate crab shu mai, duck pot stickers with portobellos and persimmon chutney---all form a sampler of exquisite tastes. Tuxedo-clad waiters efficiently arrange plates for you, and seem to anticipate your every need. What could you need after tiny eight-treasure quail, shiny as mahogany, or crisp prawns with fresh water chestnuts, or lamb with braised fennel? Well, desserts that are as far from orange ice with litchi nuts as you can get. The in-house pastry chef turns out espresso torte, banana-chocolate mousse, crème brûlée and refreshing sorbets, for just a few. Chocolate dipped fortune cookies follow a meal of fabulous fusion, the combination of honored Chinese and French techniques in a suave, worldly setting.