Dim Sum Garden - one of them.
Dim Sum Garden - one of them. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 14, 2014

Learning taste

College students want real food and want to develop their sense of taste, says chef Rick Bayless.

He says the bold flavors and scratch cooking of Tortas Frontera, his quick-service Mexican cafe, are a good fit for the University of Pennsylvania. It opened last week in the ARCH Building at 3601 Locust Walk on the center of campus, former home of the Palladium and Gold Standard Cafe.

Tortas Frontera espouses sustainability and local sourcing. Even the Penn location's coffee supplier, Rival Bros., is local.

The menu includes tortas for breakfast, a guac bar, molletes (flatbreads), caldos (soups) and cazuelas (casseroles), and salads. It is open from breakfast through dinner.

Dim Sum Garden confusion

There are now two Dim Sum Garden restaurants in Chinatown, and they have retained lawyers to spar over the use of the name.

The original soup-dumpling specialist opened in 2008 at 59 N. 11th St. It shut in September, just as operator Shizhou Da and her daughter Sally Song opened a new Dim Sum Garden at 1120 Race St.

But in December, Ru Fang Wang reopened the 11th Street restaurant as Dim Sum Garden.

In an interview last week, Wang said she had as much right to the name. She, Da, and another woman, Atom Ren, were partners in 11th Street, according to business records. Da had entered the business by buying out an earlier partner.

Wang said Da moved out without telling her, a point confirmed by the landlord's property manager, J.J. Deviney. "When it was dark, I thought it was a holiday I didn't know about," he said.

Wang brought in an original owner, Tom Guo, as chef.

Wang is upset that Song and Da are using the Dim Sum Garden name. When 11th Street went dark, websites such as Yelp and Foursquare marked it closed.

Deviney said Wang paid the rent during the downtime.

Almost immediately, Wang said, customers who knew of the Race Street shop began confronting her. "They said, 'You're a fake' and walked out," she said through an interpreter last week.

What's new

John Bucci Jr. has chosen the dead of winter to open an enclosed dining area outside John's Roast Pork (14 Snyder Ave.). He also is roasting his own beef in-house, something his family has not done in 80-plus years.

Jimmy Lee, formerly of Circles in Bala Cynwyd, has taken over the Thai stand at Ardmore Farmer's Market at Suburban Square; it's now serving pan-Asian food under the name Aziatisch.

JJ Bootleggers, specializing in moonshine-based drinks, is days from opening at 35 S. Second St. in Old City. Rustic ambience features walls of reclaimed wood, oak casks, and moonshine jars throughout. Chef/owner Bruce Santino's comfort food menu will be based on the spirit, as well.

John Brandt-Lee will move his restaurant Avalon to 116 E. Gay St. in the spring as the current occupant, Nonna's, closes, as reported here last week. Brandt-Lee is not purchasing Nonna's.

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