The Six Best Shops in Philly’s Chinatown
1016 Race Street
This two-story shop has “tourist trap” written all over it—and that’s exactly why it’s fun to explore. Some of the curiosities: Mary Jane slippers, jade bangle bracelets, a rainbow of paper lanterns, little wooden frog toys, miles of mix-and-match dishes. (Rumor has it that the guy in the back giving chair massages is a miracle worker.)
Go to Philly’s Chinatown for: Quirky gifts and souvenirs.
Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House
1022 Race Street
Slurpy, chock-full-of-greens-and-herbs noodle soups are all the rage among epicureans, and the options at this stalwart spot—where the noodles are made daily and the service is quick—can’t be beat. Initiate yourself with a bowl of steaming brisket soup, and order the fantastic, robust pork and chive dumplings to share.
Go to Philly’s Chinatown for: The ideal cold-weather meal-in-a-bowl.
227 North 10th Street
The creative guys behind this streetwear shop playfully pay homage to the space’s previous life as a Chinese restaurant: The walk-in fridge serves as a changing room; clothes are racked over a sink; a window display features Air Jordans floating between faux Peking ducks. Here you’ll find the types of sneakers that get “released,” as well as on-trend Japanese denim from Naked and Famous, sexy skater picks for ladies from Stussy, and the owners’ own line of hats and slogan-branded shirts.
Go to Philly’s Chinatown for: The “10th St. Chinatown” tees.
205 North 10th Street
Bubble tea is a unique chilled milky drink with floating tapioca pearls that get sucked up through a jumbo straw. It’s just plain fun to eat, as the giggly teens who line up for the stuff can attest. This bright tea shop has a Euro Internet Café vibe; try the bittersweet jasmine green version.
Go to Philly’s Chinatown for: A sip that the kids will love.
AIA Bookstore + Design Center
1218 Arch Street
Those still pining for the shuttered Foster’s Urban Homeware can get their modern fix here.
This packed art-and-architecture-focused store is a little out of the way, but worth the schlep for niche design-focused coffee-table books, educational toys, smart kitchen tools, and assorted trinkets like wire sculptures of the Empire State building and those more-distracting-than-Facebook moldable Buckyballs.
Go to Philly’s Chinatown for: Tchotchkes you didn’t even know you wanted.
109 North 10th Street
Grab a tray and a set of silver tongs and reach into the bins of just-made treats and pastries until you can’t possibly carry any more. (They package up your bounty at the counter.) This Chinese bakery is always buzzing with activity, and with good reason: sweet buns (light-as-air croissant-esque rolls filled with flavors like pineapple and red bean), an adorable mini custard tart, and delicious coconut moon cake. The best part: It’ll only set you back a few bucks.
Go to Philly’s Chinatown for: Sweets that you’ve never had before.