- Neighborhood: Chinatown
- 138 North 10th Street, Philadelphia, PA
- Phone: 215-928-1883
- Cuisine: Chinese
- Alcohol: BYOB
- Meals Served: Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch
- Price: $
- Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Summer is a tough time in the restaurant industry. Things get quiet and weird when the mercury climbs. People eat later. They leave town. They abandon their regular haunts for beer gardens, beach bars and rooftop decks. Autumn is solid. Winter is dependable–there’s the run-up to the holidays, and then the post-New-Year slump. Even spring has its own kind of rhythm, with reservations and walk-ins increasing in direct relation to the calendar ticking forward through March and April and May.
But summer? Summer is fickle. Summer is flighty. Summer is something that most restaurants just survive.
The good news? The season is almost over. We’re rolling inexorably toward September now, toward Labor Day and back-to-school. But before we slide into fall and all of fall’s new openings, this seems like a good time to look back over the past six (or seven) month’s worth of reviews and see where we stand. To measure what we’ve gained, what we’ve lost and where you should still get to (or get back to) before all the new kids on the block get up and running for the season.
And the most obvious place to start is…
We have a wall at the office entirely given over to a Post-It Note snapshot of everything happening in the Philly restaurant world at this given moment. Hundreds of yellow squares, on which are written the names of restaurants, initials, arrows and mysterious heiroglyphs that only Art and I (and mostly I) can understand.
The Post-Its move. Get grouped, get broken up. The restaurants we love and the restaurants we hate are all represented (in wildly unequal numbers). Restaurants that are coming–addresses chosen, opening dates optimistically scheduled–have their own space, as do established and open restaurants whose reviews are in the works. Lately, that particular section of wall has been growing crowded. There are just so many goddamn restaurants coming (it’s spring, that happens) that it feels overwhelming.
So with six months of (mostly) weekly reviews behind me, and dozens of new openings incoming, I figured this might be a good time to look back and highlight the best moments of the past six months–places that you might’ve missed, places that you really ought to get to (if you haven’t already) before the lure of new-new restaurants becomes too overpowering.
So let’s start with…
I go to Ting Wong for lunch—hiding out at a sticky table along the wall, hot tea and perfect shrimp congee in front of me. I’ve got a book (something with spaceships and ray guns) in one hand, spoon in the other, and I’m smiling because I’m supposed to be eating at some hotel restaurant a few blocks away, but I got there and hated it (hated the vibe and the look of it and the feel it gave me walking through the door), so I about-faced and retreated here, which, yes, was probably the wrong thing to do (considering my job), but it feels good, like skipping school, so I’m happy.
I go to Ting Wong for an early dinner and everything on the block smells like hot, wet garbage, but my dinner is excellent. On another day, I drop by for a quick plate of roast pork over white rice—the meat pink, honey-sweet but also complex with ginger and garlic and five-spice—just because I’m cutting through Chinatown on my way to somewhere else. The pork needs nothing. It is delicious as it is, fanned over rice, shiny under the harsh lights that seem designed to allow no shadows. But if you’re smart, you’ll ask for a little bowl of chopped ginger and scallion—bright green like pickle relish but so much better.