There’s a new and authentic spot for Chinese cuisine hidden in plain sight just blocks away from Rittenhouse Square: General Tsao’s House.
Named one of Philly's New + Notable restaurants by the The Philadelphia Inquirer's Craig Laban, General Tsao's House has brought "a taste of Sichuan fire" to the City of Brotherly Love.
A beautiful mural of a Sichuanese woman decorates the wall as we first enter the restaurant. She’s decked in a full–fur winter coat, yet the atmosphere feels warm and pleasant. Waitresses walk by with plates of traditional cuisine. Immediately, the hostess greets us and directs us to our seats, which are situated in full view of an elegant bar and the inviting ambiance of the restaurant. It’s a perfect spot to gather with friends or have a first date.
With a menu lined with dim sum, soups, noodles, and other traditional dishes, choosing from the list of options is easier said than done. We decide to try a little bit of everything: cumin lamb noodles, Sichuan cold noodles, steamed vegetable dumplings, Shanghai soup dumplings, Peking duck bao, and pepper chicken.
The restaurant's signature dishes are the pepper chicken and cumin lamb noodles. After digging in to these plates, we discover that this label is certainly deserved. The pepper chicken—although advertised as crispy—actually ends up being soft and savory, with hints of pepper and an oriental sweet and spicy sauce.
The cumin lamb noodles are a dish made from hand–drawn noodles, lamb, and chili; it’s the perfect dish for spice lovers. The noodles, made in–house by the restaurant’s chefs, are especially chewy and thin. As for the Sichuan cold noodles? They're also a recommended item for spice lovers looking to devour a cold dish on a warm summer day.
The dim sum certainly lives up to the hype as well. The Peking duck bao comes with duck and vegetables wrapped in a doughy, pillowy bun. Each bite is a beautiful combination of soft and crispy.
The same goes for the steamed vegetable dumplings. Although the portions are small, the crunchy exterior and soft interior make these dumplings the perfect option for vegetarians.
Unfortunately, the Shanghai soup dumplings don't give us the experience we anticipated, as it has a drier interior than we expected. But given how much the other dishes recommended by our hostess exceeded our expectations, the soup quickly fades to the back of our minds.
The vibe, the food, the authenticity: all are areas that General Tsao’s House shines in. If you’re looking to impress your dinner date with a hidden Chinese gem near Rittenhouse Square, look no further than General Tsao’s House.
TL;DR: Get an unforgettable taste of traditional Sichuan cuisine at General Tsao’s House—one of Philly's hottest new restaurants.
Location: 1720 Samson St.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday