Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sakura Mandarin

1038 Race Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 873-8338 ‎

Always on the lookout for delicious soup buns, I heard from some friends that Sakura (Yea it says Sakuza) Mandarin had "juicy pork buns" that were top notch. They certainly know how to name them. Juicy. Awesome. Pork. Obviously. Buns. Yes, please.

Our party of four decided to do the noble thing, and split all of the food. Always a fan of that. One note, they serve Chinese food as well as some Japanese food. Although I heard their sushi rolls were pretty good, I only tried one and it was cooked. We started with the mini wontons. These were stuffed with pork and served swimming in an oily peanuty sauce that we all found delicious. It was also our first item to arrive, so it had the luck of the hungry with it.

The cucumber with diced garlic was next. As it was a cold salad, I was immediately skeptical that it was going to be an inferior version of Han's impeccable spicy cucumbers, but it didn't try to be anything that it wasn't. Garlicy, light and loaded with cilantro, it was another solid appetizer to share.

When the dipping sauce for the buns arrived there was an air of excitement. Although we ordered other items, these were the main draw. The soy and vinegar sauce they provided was pretty standard.

We placed an order of the Shanghai Steamed Pork Juicy Buns and the Steamed Crabmeat & Pork Juicy Buns.

The texture of the bun itself was different than I have experienced in the past. It was more of a wonton-style wrapper than a bun, or even a dumpling. The pork-only buns beat out the crabmeat & pork, solely because we liked the clean flavors of the pork version. The broth was also good – both salty and rich. The chive pancake came out next, and functioned much like an Asian quesadilla minus the cheese. It was thicker than pancakes I have had previously, and was stuffed with the ingredients instead of having them integrated. Nevertheless, it was delicious.

The Spider Roll was of the usual variety, tempura softshell crab, avocado cucumber and eel sauce. It was definitely a large portion over-flowing with crab.

(As though that wasn't enough...)
For two entrees, we decided on the shrimp pan fried noodles and the special crispy beef with cumin. The shrimp were served over a pile or bird's nest, if you will, of thin crispy egg noodles. They were suprisngly good, although not what we had originally anticipated. They had a typical brown flavored sauce, and were loaded with shrimp and veggies.

The crispy beef was also a surprise when it arrived. It wasn't so much crispy as it was airy. It was breaded and fried, but came out very light and soft. It was kind of weird and kind of delicious. Obviously it was LOADED with cumin, but they also included a large amount of dried Chinese hot peppers. These were inedible, as they had not been softened but they added some spice to the dish. The beef was at times strange and other times quite good. It was tender, but not necessarily fatty. The cumin dusting was an interesting twist.

I would definitely go back for some sushi, dim sum and those delicious appetizers. The entrees would be an afterthought. However, it is definitely some tasty food if you are in the Chinatown area and looking for a snack.

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