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Susanna Foo's return to Center City is next month

SUGA pairs the acclaimed chef and her son at 1720 Sansom St.

Pioneering Philadelphia chef Susanna Foo and her son Gabriel now are targeting mid-January for the opening of Suga, which will mark her return to Center City after nearly seven years.

The Foos are setting up SUGA at the former longtime home of Genji at 1720 Sansom St., and the building has had extensive work top to bottom to house the 80 seats plus private dining. The basement, for example, was dug out three feet deeper to accommodate a kitchen, and long-hidden skylights will be exposed.

Unlike the French-Chinese fusion that put her eponymous restaurant on the map at 1512 Walnut St., SUGA's cuisine is billed as modern Chinese - a subtle change. In sum, classic Chinese dishes will be prepared with French techniques.

"My idea is to go with the trends but to keep your base," Foo said of her cooking philosophy.

She's also working closely with farms, a notion that was not top of mind during Susanna Foo's 22-year run. (The Foos sold the Walnut Street building in 2009 and closed their last restaurant, Susanna Foo Gourmet Kitchen in Radnor Township, last summer.)

On the lunch menu and dinner menu, you'll see Tongpo pork belly, bon bon chicken (brined for 24 hours), eight treasure sticky rice, Mapo tofu, Wuxi short rib, Thai seafood bouillabaisse, and her signature dumplings. A weekend brunch menu, which she did not yet share, will include egg fu yung, shrimp congee, Mongolian lamb shao ben, and liang pan.

Expect a wide tea menu as well as wine pairings and cocktails including a Singapore Sling (rum, orgeat, and pineapple), Mao Tai, and a Lychee-Tini, with vanilla vodka and lychee nectar.

The name, pronounced SOO-gah, is a portmanteau of SUsanna and GAbe.