Cheu has versions of its restaurant all over the city, with its original Cheu Noodle Bar at 10th and Spruce Streets, a smaller stand in the Fairmount Whole Foods, and Bing Bing Dim Sum in East Passyunk. Its newest iteration, Cheu Fishtown, focuses more on snacks and sharing dishes than noodles and ramen. You can even share ramen; the restaurant provides patrons with tongs and spoons to split the noodles amongst themselves.
Cheu Fishtown’s physical space is striking; upon entering, you’re greeted by a long brick bar, industrial lighting made of repurposed objects, sky–high ceilings, a huge mural, and a marquis with a list of its beers. The restaurant, once an old stable, has since been repurposed and now hosts about 40 seats in its cozy yet spacious and well–lit space. Burrowed in Fishtown, this restaurant is a little farther off campus but worth the Uber ride.
Our first dish was the beef and kimchi bing bun. The bun is made of a crispy shell of bread–like dough filled with ground beef and topped with Thousand Island dressing. While the dish is enjoyable, its execution falls a bit flat—the dressing overpowered the flavor of the kimchi and the bun’s texture is quite bready. The bun was one of the more forgettable dishes that we ate—there are other things on the menu that are more worth your appetite.
Next, we had the green curry chicken wontons. We stuffed ourselves full of these little pockets of flavorful goodness. The dish comes with peanuts and daikon on top of six perfect bites, along with green curry sauce and cilantro. The first bite brings slight hints of green curry, but rounds out with the flavor of cilantro—what could have been an overwhelmingly rich dish ends up being manageably light. When we had eaten all of the dumplings, we wanted to lick the plate clean of the amazing sauce.
Cheu is known for its eclectic takes on ramen, so we tried its brisket ramen. The dish came with ramen, a matzo ball, kimchi, and brisket, bringing Jewish deli favorites to a staple dish. The noodles were fantastic and had the perfect amount of chew and bite; they were not too soggy and not too heavy, something that is one of the biggest mistakes of ramen. The brisket was slightly dry, but the matzo ball was a wonderful added texture to the dish. The broth was very so–so, without a lot of flavor, but the noodles made up for it. We would love to come back and try their miso ramen to switch up the broth for their kick ass noods.
Finally, we tried the mapo tofu rice cakes. These little kickers had so many layers of flavors: sweet to spicy to salty all at once. The rice cakes are like little rice gnocchi that come with tofu, mushrooms, and yu choy in a chili sauce. The yu choy adds a bright flavor to the dish as well as some crunch. We were surprised how light the dish was and it seemed like magic—something so seemingly simple—and one of our favorite dishes of the day.