A report released two weeks ago confirms what people have been worrying about for a few years: That Chinatowns are a dying breed and that their death will lead to our beloved neighborhoods turning into only nominally distinct zones that all have the same pastel designs on their storefronts.
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BBQ Lamb with cumin flavor. Photo by Jason Varney.
Trey Popp reviews Xi’An Sizzling Woks (formerly Xi’An Famous Food) in Chinatown. There he discovers a side of pickled garlic cloves that set the tone for his glowing review.
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Looks like Chinatown is getting a new bar, and it’s gonna be a big one.
Sunday, September 8th marks the grand opening of BarLy. (And yes, that’s the correct spelling.) All we know right now is that it’s going to be offering 50 or 60 beers on draft, a menu of “intercontinental bar food” including burgers, sandwiches, dumplings, shellfish and more, and it’ll be opening at 101 N. 11th Street. Check it out on grand opening day, and they’re promising a dragon dance and special giveaways.
Philadelphia’s mobile food force and local South Street area businesses are mobilizing for tonight’s Night Market. The South Street Night Market will have the most vendors yet and the unseasonably wonderful weather probably means it will be the best attended Night Market yet. In addition to the 80+ food vendors there will be five locations for live entertainment, the opportunity to turn clean energy into a free Six Point beer and the chance to turn your Instagram shots into prints.
Check out the program for all the details. And if you cannot make it out tonight, the next Night Market will be in Chinatown on Thursday, October 3rd.
South Street Night Market Program (PDF)
Night Market Philadelphia [Official Site]
Lee from Hop Sing Laundromat floated the idea of loosening up his dress code to allow men to wear dress shorts. After all, he does allow women to wear them. When he floated the idea on Twitter, he received mostly howls of protest from devotees who saw the loosening of the dress code as the top of a slippery slope. So Lee, being Lee, set up a “Supreme Court of Hop Sing Laundromat” to weigh in on the subject. The justices ranged from Phillie, Kevin Frandsen to Marc Vetri to yours truly. The nine justices wrote in their opinions and the results were overwhelming.
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For me, Penang was always one of the restaurants that defined Philly’s Chinatown. Before I lived here, it was the place my wife and I would go whenever we were in town—the place that would become the warm, steamy center of every jaunt along 10th Street. But after moving here full-time and taking a job that was within walking distance of the place, for some reason I pretty much stopped going. Until now. Happily, virtually nothing about Penang has changed. In an age of menus that seem to switch up every 15 minutes, Penang’s enormous board is mercifully unaltered.
The roti canai remains the best I have ever had. The beef rendang is rich and spicy with coconut milk and lemongrass. And for those of you who’ve ever wondered what Philly’s cuisine would be like had we been invaded by Malaysians a hundred years ago, I give you Penang lobak—a spiced and fried pork roll served with shrimp pancakes and chili sauce.
117 North 10th Street
First appeared in the July, 2013 issue of Philadelphia magazine.
Red Kings 2 is now open at 1006 Race Street in Chinatown. Like the orignal at 933 Race Street, this one offers spicy Sichuan specialties like Dan Dan noodles and hard-to-resist soup dumplings. This location is offering long hours, open till 2 a.m., Sunday through Thursday and till 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Red Kings 2 [Yelp]
Photo via friedwontons4u
Dim Sum Garden, the Chinatown dive where the food is always being praised, is moving into a much bigger (and nicer) location in Chinatown. The new spot will be opposite Hop Sing Laundromat on the 1000 block of Race Street.
The Race Street restaurant is still under construction but promises to be a soup dumpling destination away from diesel exhaust.
Photo by Lee
A year after the federal government shuttered most of the independent Chinatown bus lines traveling up and down the I-95 corridor, NBC 10 reports that Peter Pan Bus Lines and Greyhound have partnered to reintroduce the service: YO! Bus travels between Chinatowns in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia with fares starting as low as $12 per trip.
These buses are a little fancier than the old Chinatown buses of yore; they include wifi services and leather seats with extra legroom. NBC reports: “The monster bus companies intentionally kept YO! Bus true to its Asian roots while giving it a bit of Philly flair. The name alone has dual meaning as it’s derived from the Chinese word meaning “to protect” as well as serving as a nod to Philadelphians’ favorite “Yo” greeting, according to the company’s website.” In Philly, the YO! bus can be boarded at the Greyhound station at 1001 Filbert.
Chef Zeng Feng Zhang has moved his Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House a block west on Race Street but the magic of the noodles remains. What Craig LaBan is most excited by are the new appetizers from the expanded menu.
An expanded menu, though, is the unexpected plus of Nan Zhou’s big expansion. In particular, don’t miss the surprisingly exotic chicken dumplings (fried is better than steamed), whose minced poultry fillings are flared with curry and rich coconut milk.
My biggest surprise, though, was the assortment of appetizers drawn from other regions of China. For vegetable starters, the shredded sea kelp tastes like snappy cold green noodles ignited with fresh garlic heat and sesame oil. Crunchy batons of raw turnip doused in sweet soy and vinegar are piled high with shriveled little fuzzy brown preserved plums that are as flavorful as they are ugly. The shredded potatoes are as addictive as they are a curious find in Chinatown, the cool, white, crunchy spud laces sparked with hot chile oil. Even more unusual, though, was the “gong” vegetable, a pickled green reminiscent of cactus in texture, but with a crunch so resonant, it rang in the back of my head like a bell.
Two Bells – Very Good
Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House [Official Site]