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?
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.
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.
Rai Rai Ramen is now open on at 915 Race Street in Chinatown. The “House of Noodle” offers seven varieties of Japanese ramen plus another 21 specialty ramen that run from seafood to pork intestines. The location is open Sunday to Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The menu also lists the North Brunswick location that was closed do to fire and a location in Kailua, Hawaii.
Rai Rai Ramen was located in North Brunswick, New Jersey until it was damaged in a December fire. The ramen restaurant is now relocating to the 900 block of Race Street in Chinatown. In their North Brunswick location, Rai Rai had a four-star Yelp rating and 261 reviews.
Most reviews were impressed by the number of ramen varieties, 25 by our count and in particular, by the spicy seafood ramen.
Rai Rai Ramen [Foobooz]
Philly.com’s Sam Wood has the story on a severe case of food poisoning that struck nearly 100 lawyers and Temple University law students in Chinatown last month. An eight-course dinner at Joy Tsin Lau was held as a fundraiser for the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association and the outcome was severe.
Several attendees had to seek medical attention and David S. Haase, a Center City lawyer, told Wood that “a combination of non-stop puking and explosive diarrhea kept him bedridden for four days.”
Considering that until recently Philadelphia had no shabu shabu restaurants, it’s pretty exciting that we now have two (soon to be three, with Nine Ting). Shabu shabu is not just me stuttering on the page. It’s the name of a special kind of cook-your-own Asian noodle soup.
Hippot Shabu Shabu can get somewhat pricey if you go for dinner (because you’ll invariably look at the menu with pages of meats, noodles, and balls and want to try them all) Unfortunately, those little additions all come at a cost (usually about $3.95 a pop, to be precise), and that’s on top of $10-$20 you’re paying for the soup itself.
But then there’s Hippot Shabu Shabu’s lunch deal.
On March 26, Nine Ting is scheduled to open at 926 Race Street. The restaurant will offer all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu and Korean barbecue.
The set price for the Shabu-shabu is $21.99 and for Korean barbecue, it’s $26.99. You can also choose to do both for $31.99.
The restaurant space is about 3,600 square feet and will seat around 120 people. The restaurant will open as a BYOB, but that may change. Owner Alan Chen hopes to gain a liquor license in the future, but wants to focus on the food right now.
Nine Ting [Foobooz]
Nom Wah Tea Parlor kind of opened today. The New York based dim sum spot has a Philadelphia location at 218 N 13th Street and the kitchen is ready, even if the dining room isn’t. So they’ve begun offering delivery via Caviar.
Since we were intrigued and figured you would be too, we placed a late lunch order. In just under 50 minutes our order was at the front desk.
Seriously? It’s like you people have never seen fried chicken before.
The lines, the waits, the epic crowds–all of this has served to throw a big, chicken-smelling wrench into the grand opening plans at BonChon in Chinatown. First, they had to scale back their hours so they could focus on their dinner crowds during the grand opening weekend–dumping lunch service entirely and opening at 5pm. Then they made that schedule temporarily permanent, announcing that, for the time being, the hours were going to be 5pm-11pm only. That schedule still stands, and today they’ve had to scale back even more.