The Philadelphia Jewish Voice
By Lisa Kelvin Tuttle
Welcome to our new food column, The Kosher Table --— the place to find out ‘what’s cooking’ in the Philadelphia area. Here you’ll find an eclectic array of Shabbat, holiday, and everyday menus and recipes, as well as the scoop on our region’s kosher restaurants and shops.
In this month's column I share my experience at Yi-Tzi Peking in Bala Cynwyd. Next month’s column features menus and entertaining ideas for Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot, as well as an update on the Narberth Acme’s greatly expanded Kosher Department. Correspondence is welcome at food @ pjvoice.com
I recently had the pleasure of dining at the ‘new kid on the block’—Yi-Tzi Peking Kosher Asian Cuisine and Sushi Bar in Bala Cynwyd. As I entered the restaurant I could feel the happy and expectant air of opening night at the theater, though this was not Yi-Tzi’s first night—clearly, the Bala community was delighted to finally have its own glatt kosher restaurant. The long-awaited pan-Asian eatery is a family venture, owned and operated by father-son kosher catering team Mark and Jonathan Powers. The two had been looking for four years for the appropriate place and felt the former site of the Mitzvah Factory was just the place, right across from Starbuck’s on Montgomery Avenue. The menu at Yi-Tzi (named for Mark’s grandson Yitzi, and pronounced "Yee-Tsee") showcases the cuisines of China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, and the sushi is made to order on site by an expert team of sushi chefs.
The décor is simple and elegant—mostly Japanese in feel, with an earthy color scheme, pretty lantern sconces along the main wall, and striking black matte china and tea decanters. In the back of the restaurant is a handsome double basin for ritual hand washing, accompanied by plates of good seeded bread.
There was the usual selection of soups—Won Ton, Hot and Sour, and Egg Drop—as well as Miso, and Vietnamese Pineapple Chicken Soup, which piqued my interest. My buddy Sharon ordered the Won Ton ($1.95) and gave me a taste: The broth was clear and light and held two large beef-filled won tons. My Vietnamese Pineapple Chicken Soup ($2.75) was a surprise—more fruity than savory, mildly spicy, and slightly creamy in consistency, it had a generous helping of thin slices of white meat chicken and tomatoes. Our next course was a plate of refreshing flavorful Sesame Noodles in Peanut Sauce ($4.75) — just the right amount of sweetness, and garnished simply with sesame seeds and chopped toasted peanuts. Really good. I could have ordered another one of those, but I was eager to try the sushi. My friend and I shared the Seared Tuna Roll ($11.95), an elegant presentation of ten bundles of julienned cucumber and scallion each wrapped with a slice of fresh tuna with lightly seared edges, then drizzled with a flavorful soy sauce and garnished with slivers of scallion. This was unique and delicious.
145 Montgomery Avenue
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
Sunday: 11:30 - 9:00
The two entrees we ordered were Eggplant with Garlic Sauce (a favorite of mine which I order just about every time I eat Chinese) and General Tsao’s Chicken. The eggplant ($8.45) was delicious and beautifully presented—large slices of succulent dark purple eggplant and red and green peppers in just the right amount of a fragrant, orange sauce. The General Tsao’s Chicken ($14.95), one of the house specials, was very good as well, and consisted of big chunks of crispy breaded tender dark meat chicken, colorful bell pepper, and a smattering of whole dried Szechuan peppers, all served up in a tangy, mildly spicy sauce. Spicy dishes are noted on the menu with an asterisk, however, all dishes can be modified for spiciness at the diner’s request. The menu is large, too (over 60 varieties of sushi and sashimi alone, starting at $2.00 per piece, and $4.00 for rolls) and most entrees will be familiar to Chinese food fans. Keep a look-out, however, for "Shabu-Shabu" a house specialty cooked right at the table, coming soon.
Desserts included a selection of parve ice creams and a nice variety of fruit sorbets—strawberry, lemon, mango, raspberry, and blackberry (my choice) were available the night I was there. The portion of sorbet ($3.25 for a very generous scoop) was enough for two, and the flavor and quality were excellent.
Our dinner --- soup, appetizer, sushi, entrees, and dessert, along with tax and tip—came to about $25.00 per person. The restaurant also has Luncheon Specials, available Monday through Friday from 11:30 to 3:00, averaging $8.00 per person.
The place has been packed every night. If you really want to get a seat, a reservation is a must.
Yi-Tzi Peking is under the supervision of the Community Kashrus of Philadelphia and the Vaad Hakashrus of Baltimore (Star-K), and the restaurant has a mashgiach on premises; all major credit cards are accepted. The place is also comfortable for families. Kids will love the Chinese Chicken Nuggets and Korean Beef on a Stick, as well as many familiar favorites. A note at the bottom of the menu stated that they don’t use MSG. Servers were attentive and responsive—when I switched an entrée midway, the response was "no problem."
So check it out!
Until we eat again . .
Lisa Kelvin Tuttle is a self-described "foodie" with professional experience in the gourmet and health-food fields, as well as an experienced camp cook. Her greatest pleasure, though, is cooking Shabbos dinner for family and friends. She resides with her husband, Alan, and sons Adam and Jeremy in Wynnewood.
All questions concerning the kashrut of the establishments featured in this column should be directed to your rabbi or rav.