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Pettie (sic) Soo Chow in Cliffside Park - authentic Chinese

I often visit my (Chinese-born) dad in Bergen County on the week-ends and, due to the dearth of authentic Chinese restaurants in the area, find it a challenge to eat out at places other than Chinese buffets. Until tonight, that is. We went to a place called Pettie Soo Chow (I believe the intented name was "Petite Soo Chow", as that is what the restaurant's Chinese name conveys) which my dad learned about recently from a friend of his. Soup dumplings (xiao long bao), sizzling salmon, clay-pot fish head, and double-cooked pork were all excellent, served in generous portions and well-spiced in the Zhejiang/Sichuan style...easily the kind of stuff that would warrant a trip to Chinatown or Flushing. Service was also cordial and attentive. I understand that on week-ends, they do Northern-style Chinese breakfast (steamed buns, shaobing, soy-milk, fried crullers, etc.)...Dad and I will be visiting again soon!

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  1. This sounds promising; can you tell me where they are located in Cliffside Park?
    I wonder whether or not they are related to the old "little Soo Chow" in Saddle Brook ?

    2 Replies
    1. re: kNOwTASTE

      Sure...607 Gorge Road. They're open till 10:00 most nights, till 10:30 Fridays and Saturdays. Bon appetit!

      1. re: kNOwTASTE

        The owners of "Petite Soo Chow" were the original owners of "Little Soo Chow" in Saddle Brook. Then they sold that business. The new owner carried on the name of "Little Soo Chow", but not the quality of the food.

      2. Thanks, I will give it a try.

        1. Hi Marachino -- would you say this is the best place for Sichuan (or other highly spicy authentic Chinese) food in NJ north of the Edison/Highland Park area? Any idea if this place would be difficult to "crack" for a non-Asian or non-Chinese person, as some of the Edison/HP-area Chinese places are reputed to be? (I am white and haven't learned any Chinese words yet but I plan to learn at least a little.)

          Although I live in Newark, I work in NYC not far from Chinatown, so I don't normally have a lot of incentive to try out Chinese places in NJ, but I want to find a place where I can take my parents when they visit me in NJ. They love Asian food and my mother likes it very, very, very spicy.

          Normally when we want Chinese in NJ, we go to China 46 in Ridgefield Park. They're always friendly, and if you ask for the authentic stuff, you get it. My understanding is that they're more Shanghainese, although they do have some Sichuan dishes.

          http://www.china46.com

          If Pettie Soo Chow has more Sichuan or even better Sichuan, then we're def. interested.

          And, just for everybody's reference, here are some other useful threads about Chinese in northern/north central NJ.

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          2 Replies
          1. re: Ike

            Hi Ike,

            Do take your parents to this place! Very authentic--they even have a lady sitting behind a glass panel making dumplings in plain view of the dining room, much like they would in Chinatown or Flushing. If I recall correctly, food is mostly in the Zhejiang style. Decor is clean and simple. They also "kick it up a notch" compared to other North Jersey places--I've been to China 46 several times and have not been too impressed. Bon a-Pettie!!

            1. re: marachino

              We finally got a chance to visit this place and we loved it. Thanks a lot for posting about it! It was very tasty and seemed quite authentic. The spicy dishes had a pretty decent kick to them, which made us happy.

              We got soup dumplings, which were very good. My parents had never tasted these before, and they were very impressed. I liked them about as much as the ones I got at Shanghai Cafe in Manhattan a few months ago. As with Shanghai Cafe, they could've been a touch more juicy perhaps, but overall, very good. I may have had better soup dumplings once, long ago, but I don't remember where.

              We also followed some of the other recommendations from this board, getting the spicy beef dish with little buns (this is #20 on the menu under beef, "Beef w. Hot Pepper (4 [Chinese characters])").

              The beef dish was very similar to a dish we'd had at China 46 once. It had a different name there, I think. But I'd say that Petite Soo Chow does it a little better. It was spicier and the buns were fresher and far tastier, if not as big or as easy to manipulate. The beef was diced into very small pieces, along with a lot of tofu and peppers. Yum.

              We also asked about "Red Cook Fish" which someone here recommended. Nothing similar to that name was listed on the menu, but when we asked about it, I think the lady pointed out #16 on the menu under Seafood -- "Buffalo Fish Pieces w. Hot Bean Sauce" -- and said "you want whole fish, or part?" and we said part, not a whole fish, so she brought us #16 (I think), which she recommended. This turned out to be an excellent recommendation. The spicy sauce was really great and flavorful. Just watch out for the small bones in the fish. Mmmmmm, fish.

              We also got Bamboo Shoots w. Brown Sauce (#17 on the Cold App. section of the menu) which was great. The best bamboo shoots I've had. Far, far better than the ones I had at Congee Village in NYC a few months ago. (I didn't like CV much. Maybe it was an off-night at CV though, since it has lots of recommendations from reliable posters.) Surprisingly tender. Plus I ordered Thousand Layer Cake from the "Break Fast" portion of the menu, after confirming they had it in stock. The lady said "sweet taste, OK?" and I said OK. I was expecting something more like the thousand-layer bread you'd get from a Burmese restaurant, which is like a paratha bread, I think, but this was an actual cake-like pastry, with lots of layers, and maybe some raisins (?) but not as sweet as a cake. I didn't like this so much -- the texture was odd and kind of sticky -- but I knew it was risky, and hey, it was only $3.50 anyway.

              Also, we got the baby bok choy, which was fantastic.

              So, great place! I recommend it to everybody. Better than our last few visits to China 46, which is inconsistent, although it's been a while since we got over there.

              Note: If you're not familiar with the Cliffside Park area, then allow extra time to find the place. It's a bit of a maze in this area. I didn't follow the Mapquest directions to the letter, so we got a little off-track, but it only set us back by 10 minutes because I'm an OK navigator. Also, once you get on Route 63 south, then both Mapquest and Google Maps tell you to make a left at Nelson Ave. in order to reach Anderson Ave./Gorge Rd., but Nelson Ave. is easy to miss in the dark. There's no traffic light there. Making a left at Lafayette Ave. is probably easier. Then right on Anderson, and bear left onto Gorge. The restaurant is on the right and has its own parking lot. From the road, it just looks like it's called "Chinese Restaurant" plus a lot of Chinese characters. I came from Newark and it was well worth the drive.

          2. Greetings, does anyone have a phone number for this place? I can't find ANYTHING on the internet. I need to know what time they open Sunday morning.

            But I was very happy to hear about it, because we regularly take an aged relative to Sunday brunch in the Fort Lee area and have found most of the restaurants we have tried out there underwhelming (we live in Queens and are just not very familiar with Bergen county). So hurrah for good Chinese!

            1. I have checked out Petite SooChow and the news is good.
              The food is a bit better than your average Chinese restaurants in Flushing or Chinatown, which makes it excellent in Bergen County.

              The cuisine is mostly Shanghaiese(Jiangsu+Zhejiang) and some Taiwanese dishes.

              Xiaolongbao is excellent. (IMO, it is better than Joe’s Shanghai in New York). The lady behind the glass panel is great with the Chinese “little eats”.
              Some of the dishes to try: WuXi Spareribs, Red-Cook Fish and clay pots.
              I will go back and try more.

              It's telephone# is 201-313-1666 and it closes at 10:30 on the weekend.

              Maraschino, good suggestion.

              1 Reply
              1. re: kNOwTASTE

                KT,

                Yes, their xiaolongbao are quite memorable and I agree that they are better than Joe Shanghai's. Glad you enjoyed!

              2. Definitely worth the trip. In my opinion, it is the finest authentic Chinese cuisine in the tri-state area. The soup dumplings are amazing and each order is made fresh (the lady behind the glass isn't for show). We have been a couple of times for the breakfast. The turnip buns, chive and egg bun, both types of soy milk (squeezed fresh each Sat. and Sun.), and scallion pancakes are all out of this world.

                In terms of more "regular" fare, they have a spicy beef dish served with little buns to scoop the dish into. Excellent, but very spicy, so beware. Even a plain vegetable dish with gluten free pasty puffs was very tasty, as was the tofu duck.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Matt M.

                  Matt, do you have any idea how late they serve the brerakfast? Its been a long time since we've had that style.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    I think they serve breakfast all day but they usually run out of most things by mid-afternoon. This type of breakfast is the "Northern style" which not too many Chinese restaurants serves in Jersey.

                    Xiaolongbao is a must here.

                    William

                    1. re: kNOwTASTE

                      I believe you are correct that they serve many breakfast items all day, as long as they don't run out. However, the most popular dishes, the fresh soy milk and the fried dumplings (I think they call them pork rolls) are usually gone by noon.

                      What is Xiaolongbao? I should like to try it next time.

                      1. re: Matt M.

                        Xiao long bao = soup dumplings

                        1. re: Matt M.

                          Matt,

                          The fried dumpling you mentioned is call Sunjingbao(生煎包/"raw fried bao"). It is basically a fried Xiaolongbao.
                          While the dough of Xiaolongbao is made with regular flour, the dough for Sunjingbao is made with lower gluten flour that makes the shell hold up better during the pan frying and then the steaming process. What you end up with are buns with moist top, juicy inside and crusty bottom. This is another one of those specials that the lady behind the glass (they call her "big sister") makes on the weekend.

                  2. Excellent restaurant, I go there regularly.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: mimolette

                      is it byob?

                      1. re: JRL

                        They don't serve alcohol, but I don't know if it is BYOB?

                        1. re: Matt M.

                          Basically any NJ restaurant that doesn't have a license to serve alcohol is a BYOB. Petite Soochow is no exception, and they have wine glasses waiting for you.

                          1. re: tommy

                            In that, NJ differs from MA,where I live. Love that about NJ; so many BYOBs . Looking forward to dinner at Petite Soochow tonite.
                            Thanks!

                    2. Had dinner there last night. Excellent xiao longbao. The waitress asked us to "trust her" and I'm glad we did. She brought us a special of shredded chicken with young bamboo and edamame that was delicious and had an interesting combination of textures. She also brought scallops in ginger and scallion sauce. The scallops were pan-seared and crunchy on the bottom but remained plump and juicy. Everyone around us was chatting and enjoying their meal. Lots of asian families and couples from 20's to 60's. Very welcoming and friendly staff.

                      1. This restaurant is wonderful. My wife and I have become regulars at Petite Soo Chow. We kept seeing Chinese having dishes brought to the table that were not on the menu and we'd ask for those dishes. The waitress now brings us the menu that the Chinese patrons get, not the stripped down menu for the non-Chinese. Lots of great dishes. My wife loves spicy food but I have a problem with highly spiced dishes. Petite Soo Chow tones those down for me to enjoy. And enjoy I do! Fortunately, there are also a lot of less spicy dishes. I heartily recommend trying their Juicy Buns. But watch out! They're very hot when they arrive at the table. We've been bemoaning the lack of good Chinese restaurants in the area, especially since we had moved from Manhattan where we ate great Chinese regularly. Now we eat fantastic Chinese food - frequently - in Cliffside Park - at Petite Soo Chow.

                        1. Almost 25 years ago there was a tiny restaurant in a remote part of Manhattan Chinatown called "Petite Soo Chow" The food you describe at the Cliffside Park place seems much better, but this Chinatown place was the best NY had to offer in 1983. I was sad when they closed a few years later. I wonder if they are related.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Brian S

                            please let us know if you ever find out!

                            1. re: Brian S

                              Yes, this restaurant is indeed the successor to the one in Manhattan Ctown that burned down. The original owner was an elderly gentleman who has since passed away, but when we lived in NJ, we tracked down his family to this location. We haven't been back in a dozen years, but it is wonderful to hear that the standards haven't declined. I remember the lady who makes dumplings, she resembles her father a lot. The potstickers there are very similar to the ones in Taiwan, straight like cigars all stuck together. Our favorite meal always started with the hot and sour soup and xiaolongbao. Thanks for the memories!

                            2. Our plans for dinner went awry - didn't get to NJ in time. Managed to stop at Pettie Soo Chow for breakfast on the way home Sunday. Was every bit as delicious as described and the service couldn't have been nicer. H & I had: the chive & egg cake; the turnip buns which we'd never had before and were outstanding;dumplings in spicy sauce, which was one of the best versions we've had. And... There was a table from which you could select individual room temp dishes to be brought to you. Various sliced duck plates, seaweed salad, whole fried fish, some other things. H chose a dish which he understood the server to say was some kind of long beans. Not even close - they looked similar to fava beans, but had a much creamier consistency and were just wonderful in a slightly sweet preparation, between a glaze and a sacue. I've never seen them before and they don't appear to be on the menu we got, though there was a whiteboard with Chinese specials listed. Does anybody know what they're called?

                              Next trup to NJ we'll be sure to get there in time for dinner.

                              1. May be it is the broad bean(green fava bean}?

                                see picture link:

                                http://www.broadbean.com/Chinese-broa...

                                People in Sichuan use this bean to make their famous spicy bean paste. I had this cold dish here and it is very nice.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: kNOwTASTE

                                  Yes, that was it! I liked them better than other fava bean dishes (not Chinese)I've had. I also didn't realize they were used for spicy bean paste, which I love. I guess H heard "broad" as "long".
                                  Thank you.

                                2. went to pettie soochow over the weekend for breakfast and thought it was very good. my friends and i have eaten at a lot of places in flushing and were still impressed by the quality of the food here.

                                  first off, i have to agree with the others who have been raving about the xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) - they're really delicious. the outer skin is nice and thin and not too doughy, while the meat and broth inside are fresh and flavorful. definitely a winner, and in our opinion better than any of the joe's shanghai locations (or anyplace else in the city that we've tried, for that matter).

                                  we also ordered both types of soy milk; one is sweet and meant to be sipped as is, while the other has vinegar poured into it, which causes it to curdle up.

                                  to complement the soy milk, we got the shaobing (flatbread with sesame seeds on the outside) and youtiao (fried dough crullers). in the northern chinese/taiwanese style, we wrapped the shaobing around the youtiao to create a "shaobing youtiao" sandwich, which was then dipped into the vinegar-laced soy milk and eaten. it was very good, although my taiwanese friend thinks the version at king 5 noodle in flushing is better.

                                  also got the sunjingbao (fried version of xiaolongbao), which was another hit at the table - fresh, flavorful, and not too greasy. we liked the turnip cakes as well, although i've had better in flushing.

                                  all in all, this place is quite good by any standard and really outstanding for northern nj, which is for the most part a chinese food wasteland.

                                  btw, the name on the menu now reads "petite soochow", which was the intended moniker all along, but the neon sign in the window still trumpets this place as "pettie soochow", LOL.

                                  1. I have a complaint against Petite Soo Chow at 607 Gorge Road in Cliffside Park, NJ. They always mark up your check. Say your bill comes to $25.80 including tax, they'll round it off and charge you $26.00. If it's $10.85, they'll round it off to $11.00. You get the idea. This is not a fair practice and I'm in the process of reporting them to the Bergen County Consumer Affairs Division of Consumer Protection 1 Bergen County Plaza Hackensack, NJ 07601 Office - 201-336-6400 Fax - 201-336-6416. Why should we dine at their restaurant and pay more than the bill. If anything, we should receive an occasional discount as being frequent customers. All I can say is look at your check carefully and make sure to add everything up. If it's off by even a penny, dispute it!!!!

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: mymail778

                                      do you feel better now? I have been meaning to eat that this place and will try to get there. You must really like the food there if you kept going back after they keep robbing you of your .20c. Call the authorities!! I hope I don't have to dine next to you ya cheap-o!! I guess you'll be the one making the stink out of the penny overcharge.

                                      1. re: Dcemont

                                        If you feel good paying the .20 overcharge, great!!!!! Better yet, why don't you just drop quarters by the front counter? That way, I can pick it up to pay for the over charge. Also, I always give people a benefit of the doubt for which I went back there 3 times, each time being overcharged. I said forget it. It's the principle, not the food. I'll eat at a crappy place so long as the service is good. In this case, it's not. Most places I eat at, they roundoff downwards on the bill, SooChow rounds off upwards towards their advantage. Go, try it. Eat there and feel good paying more than the bill. I'm not talking about the tip either as it's a different story. The wait staff need to earn their money. The cashier, who most likely is the owner, keeps the money for themselves.

                                        1. re: mymail778

                                          Tell you what.. I eat there alot. If they over charged you just say so... I'm sure they will gladly give you back $.20. Why don't you just ask?? maybe because you don't want to look like a cheap Ass. What's wrong with you?? can't speak up for yourself in person? gotta bad mouth people online? one more thing... sure!! they must be making soooo much more money because of your $0.20.

                                          1. re: NJfood1

                                            I've been eating here for about 4 months. Ever since I first found it on this blog. The juicy buns are great. The other food is just fair compared to other restaurants. They will try to overcharge almost everytime. I always check and find that if you order the specials, they charge what they want. There is no place that tells you the price. Yesterday, I ordered steamed striped bass, and asked the server how much. She said $19.95, but when the check came they charged $21.95. It was a very small fish, worrth only $14.95 in a restaurant, but they overcharged, even what they said. I got the $2 back. Other times they have overcharged as much as $7 per check. I'm sure most of their American customers don't check.

                                    2. Aside from the really authentic (occasionally uncommon) and tasty food PSC is one of the few Chinese restaurants that actually has an atmosphere. The staff are friendly and courteous and I have experienced and witnessed customers that were strangers discussing and sharing food to try. That is a phenomenon. All over NJ today Chinese sitdown restaurants are dying out to be replaced with Japanese or Korean or Asian 'Fusion'. I hope Petite Soochow can remain in business for a long time to come. Best Chinese cuisine for miles and worth the trip if you are making it.