The Other Critics

Baan Thai’s Dumplings Are ‘Infinitely Better’ Than Most Others; Phyllis Stein-Novack Is Spellbound by Ela’s ‘Culinary Magic’

Baan Thai, which replaced Sonata on Liberties Walk last fall, served dumplings that are “infinitely better than the majority of what you’ll taste elsewhere,” according to Brian Freedman. A plate of ped yang came off as a “perfect hybrid between Peking duck and fried chicken,” and like the dumplings, Freedman chalks the success to chef-owner Samantha Marsh’s “personal touches,” like her “attention to the minute differences in flavor,” and homegrown ingredients. “Cloying sweetness” derailed some dishes. But all told, the NoLibs restaurant showed “real promise.” [PW]

• Phyllis Stein-Novack ordinarily doesn’t go for the foams, nozzle-topped contraptions, and liquid nitrogen that turn kitchens into scientific laboratories, but the “culinary magic” cast by Jason Cichonski at Ela summoned four tips of her toque this week. The whipped foie gras “should not be missed”; bone marrow-filled pasta “squirted rich goodness” into her mouth with every bite; and sweet-and-sour apples and cabbage served as a “perfect foil” for a braised pork shank. [South Philly Review]

Baan Thai’s Dumplings Are ‘Infinitely Better’ Than Most