Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever for chefs to find inspiration from cuisines all over the world. Creative combinations that meld unlikely flavors and ingredients are showing up at restaurants of all kinds, and many of them are so good they seem destined to become new classics. When you’re looking for something surprising, try for one of these seven great cross-cultural mash-up dishes around Philadelphia.
Rich Landau pulls from cuisines around the world for the vegan street-food menu at his new Rittenhouse cocktail and snack bar. Belgian frites meet Japan and Korea in his lunchtime fries, which are dusted with togarashi spice, cilantro and chopped scallion and served with a gochujang mayo dipping sauce ($5; pictured above).
126 S. 19th St.; 215-278-7943
Co-chef Yehuda Sichel channels Jewish cooking into entirely new forms at this CookNSolo dining room in Center City. Breaded veal cutlet finds its way into strips laced with cabbage and anchovy mayo inside a trio of housemade tortillas for a snack that would make Bubbe smile in spite of herself ($14).
1623 Sansom St.; 215-867-0088
Adan Trinidad offers more than a dozen creative tacos at his Fishtown hot spot, and each one is an exquisite melding of flavors and textures in novel combinations. Middle Eastern meets Mexico in these “tafels” (it just sounds better), which features fluffy fried chickpea batter topped with feta cheese, lettuce, tomato and jalapeño yogurt dressing ($13).
19 W. Girard Ave.; 267-324-3530
At his understatedly elegant South Street restaurant, Peter Serpico takes the most “Philly” of all peppers and builds a rich, intensely flavored ramen broth around it. A soft-cooked egg and a dusting of nori seaweed powder finish off the unique bowl ($14).
604 South St.; 215-925-3001
Ben Puchowitz loves traditional Asian dumplings, but he also enjoys playing around with ingredients that aren’t usually found in Chinese cuisine. He created what looks to be instant classic for the opening menu at his East Passyunk dim sum house — a bao bun stuffed with pastrami and Swiss, pan fried and served with Russian dressing dipping sauce ($7).
1648 E. Passyunk Ave.; 215-279-7702
Alex Boonphaya and Silvestre Rincon play mix and match with Thai and Mexican flavors at their South Street taqueria. One of their more successful combinations is this plate of fresh-fried tortilla chips piled with chopped tomato, melting cheese, jalapeños and coconut-curry-braised lamb ($9).
429 South St.; 267-639-2396
Wings get the Indian treatment at Rakesh Ramola’s Midtown Village enclave, with a spicy tomato-chile sauce coating twice-fried and frenched drumettes. A sprinkling of blue cheese goes just as well with this hot dressing as with classic Buffalo ($8).
205 S. 13th St.; 215-545-4633