The Scallion Pancakes at Tom’s Dim Sum | Photo by Claudia Gavin
There are a lot of restaurants in this town that I go to because it’s my job. There are some I find myself in because life is strange and sometimes the lesser of many evils is a plate of greasy mozzarella sticks and a hip flask of Jim Beam and Coke at 3 a.m. Others I go to because I get caught up in the excitement just like everyone else—the frenzy of the new—and want to be there to see what all the fuss is about. To weigh this particular fuss against the fuss of last week and whatever fuss might be coming along next.
And then there are places I go to because I simply can’t not go. Because something in them draws me like gravity—a comfort beyond simple sustenance, strong drinks or good company. The bar at Bud & Marilyn’s is like that. Ting Wong in Chinatown. El Rincon Criollo. This little sushi place in Suburban Station that I love just because all the sushi is made by robots and I love robots. Stargazy, which I sometimes dream about because the banoffee tart blew my mind once and I can’t ever get there often enough.
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Photo by Mike Persico
Lê from Hop Sing Laundromat has updated his shot-based happy hour. The happy hour allows properly attired guests to shoot or sip (probably sip) Espolon Añejo tequila for $3.50, Booker’s Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey for $7.77 or Bowmore’s 25 years old Single Malt Whisky $39.99 plus many other top notch spirits. It might be pricy for that 25-year old Bowmore, but when you consider a bottle costs $445 it starts to look like a deal. A deal you sip, delicately.
Happy hour at Hop Sing Laundromat is Tuesday through Friday, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Hop Sing Laundromat’s happy hour menu »
Sea Bar, a new seafood restaurant in Chinatown that serves a variety of live crabs, shrimp, mussels, little neck and top neck clams, and has a raw bar with about eight types of oysters from the East and West Coasts is now open. The seafood is served cooked and tossed with a choice of a sauce.
For now, Sea Bar is BYOB until they get their liquor license, and they also serve some non-alcoholic mojitos, daiquiris, and piña coladas. Sea Bar is located at 140 N. 10th Street.
Sea Bar [Official]
Ting Wong | Philadelphia magazine
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.
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Some things are worth the wait and Chinatown‘s long-discussed Eastern Tower is undoubtedly one of them. However, should things progress without a hitch, the wait for the long-planned 20-story building at 10th and Vine (map) could come to an end by next year.
Although we reported last year that the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, the project’s developer, was looking to break ground this fall, Flying Kite Media now says that’s been pushed back for financial reasons, though not of the strapped kind:
“We had initially thought that we wanted to break ground in the beginning of , but we actually spent the bulk of this year strengthening our position financially,” explains [Sarah] Yeung. The last several months have brought significant contributions from PECO and Comcast, as major public and private funders took notice of the project’s traction.
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Japanese crepes (like pretty much everything Japanese, and particularly most convenience foods that are Japanese) are a little bit weird. I mean sure, the idea of a crepe sounds excellent. And the idea of a fast-casual restaurant serving up hot, fresh crepes sounds even more awesome. But then you get to T-swirl (which opened just a few days ago in Chinatown and has already seen crowds big enough to scare away those not arriving precisely at 11am when it opens), and you look at the menu, and your very first thought is why are they putting boiled asparagus in my Thai chicken crepe? followed shortly by and why are there carrots in EVERYTHING?
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Illustration by Kagan McLeod
When we were young cooks, none of us could ever stand still.
Work — 12 or 14 or 16 hours. White jackets and checked pants; prep and then more prep and then the first hit, the dinner rush, the long, slow glide toward wipe-down. Crews rolled out the back doors of restaurants, converged on the nearest bars for first drinks, then moved on — looking for salty things and fried things and sushi and pho and flat, floppy slices and weed. We were perpetually unsatisfied, a whole knot of us growing antsy and weird if we spent more than 45 minutes in any one place, because no matter where we were, there was always the chance of something better waiting right next door.
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Philadelphia’s first shabu shabu restaurant, Simply Shabu has closed after a year-and-a-half. The BYOB, owned by the Tuan family, was located at 1023 Cherry Street. Though Simply Shabu was first, Chinatown has seen Hippot Shabu Shabu and Nine Ting open since. The restaurant earned a two-bell review from Craig LaBan last spring, but more recently was temporarily closed for a family vacation, a closure that was extended. Simply Shabu only survived two more weeks after its reopening.
Read the note from the Tuan family »