Restaurant: DJ Kitchen
Location: 4040 City Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19131. (215) 586-8888
Date: November 29, 2019
Cuisine: Szechuan Chinese
Rating: Surprisingly good
For “Fat Friday” — the official Friday dinner after Thanksgiving, we broke with the tradition of another house meal and headed partially into center Philadelphia to:
DJ Kitchen — a surprisingly authentic Szechuan place.
Typical modern interior of the newer more casual Chinese joints.
Part of our giant 20 person table.
The kid corner.
The auspiciously colored menu.
From my cellar: 2006 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon. AG 94+. The 2006 Rosé Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon is powerful, intense and also classically austere in its make up. Crushed flowers, mint, red berries and cranberries are all finely sketched. The 2006 finishes with striking mineral-driven precision, and while it doesn’t have the opulence or exuberance of the 2002, it is still a very pretty and appealing Champagne. The Elisabeth Salmon is 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay, with about 8% still Pinot Noir. Dosage is 6 grams per liter. (Drink between 2018-2031)
Scallion pancakes for the kids. Certain adults, even certain adults who are supposed to be avoiding carbs, felt compelled to gobble these as well.
Spicy crispy cucumber. Solid (and garlicky) version of the classic cucumber opening.
Chicken in chili oil. Classic Szechuan appetizer of cold chicken in chili sauce. Not a bad version.
Cumin fries (again mostly for the kids).
Pan fried pork dumplings. Pretty generic.
Dan Dan Noodle.
Mixed up. Not bad, but lacked the complex nutty flavor I like in great dan dan.
Dumplings in chili oil. These were delicious.
Vegetarian Spring Rolls with sweet sauce.
XLB (Xiao Long Bao). Always great little steamed pockets of delicate dough filled with pork.
From my cellar: 2017 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese. 92 points. Orange, pineapple, graphite and earth. Step up in weight here on the palate but has superb acidity that cuts through and drives onward. Great length and detailed layers give this excellent palate presence.
Homemade egg with tomato for the vegetarians. We had too many people with dietary restrictions tonight — always a touch difficult at real Chinese food.
Chinese cabbage with dried pepper. I love this dish. Really nice texture. Somehow makes cabbage delicious.
Mapo Tofu. Pretty good rendition — and one of my favorites.
Kung Pao Shrimp. Okay, but not a fan of the bell peppers (too Chinese American).
Tea Smoked Duck with hoisin and buns. More like Cantonese roast duck.
Dry pepper Chicken. Always a super delicious pile of crunchy fried chicken. This particular one was very spicy. Often it isn’t.
Not bad for 20+ people!
Overall, while not as good as a place like Sichuan Impression, pretty real Szechuan Chinese. About as good as a second rate SGV place — and for a city like Philadelphia that’s excellent. I enjoyed my meal a lot. The kids and vegetarians maybe a bit less so!