October 04 2023
By Craig LaBan Published Oct 5, 2023
What would be your Philly dream menu from 2023? A blowout carnivore’s feast or next-level plant-based cooking kissed by fire and fermentation? How about some sizzling momos? Or a hoagie built on scratch ingredients from the fresh-baked roll on up? My favorite dishes this year reflect the diversity that continues to inspire our dining scene, from sandwiches to sundaes and some major splurges. But these 15 places share at least one common theme: they pushed boundaries with chefs who dug deeper (sometimes quite literally) into the land, their ambitions and proud culinary traditions they made their own.
Andy Bernard and business partner Crystal Gurin built Kaiseki as a ghost kitchen sushi delivery service before landing a brick-and-mortar location in 2020. It’s hidden from street view inside the lobby of a mixed-use building on Spring Garden and still does primarily takeout. But if you snag one of the four seats at the counter, Bernard, who studied at sushi school in Los Angeles before working at Hiroki, will lavish you with some of the best Japanese-imported fish in town — and at prices befitting a solo operation with low overhead. The chirashi, in particular, was a stunner of pristinely fresh kanpachi, madai, aji, uni, and two coveted cuts of bluefin tuna (among other delights) arranged in a gorgeously colorful bouquet of well-sliced fish over seasoned rice. At $41 for a dish that would cost far more elsewhere, it’s among the finest quality sushi bargains around.