Photo by Michael Persico
On a steamy Wednesday afternoon, I eat steamed mandoo dumplings with metal chopsticks and pork soondubu with a raw egg bobbing in the center, poaching slowly in the chili-spiked tofu broth. On the big flat-screen hung at one end of the room, the Food Network is showing an old episode of Pioneer Woman. She makes some cheap-jack garlic bread mounded up with cheese while I pierce the yolk of my egg and watch it leak yellow into the stew, while a radio somewhere plays Fleetwood Mac and tables of locals mix with high-school kids filtering up from the stalls downstairs, looking for something more substantial than rolled ice cream and bao.
The dumplings are excellent—salty and squishy, packed with minced pork and vegetables. The soondubu is as filling and comforting as it should be, smooth and heavy on the tongue, the egg adding a richness that makes it taste like I’m drinking an old-school French sauce, only razored up with heat and the competing savory/sour flavors that define so much of East Asian cuisine.
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Chinatown Square opened on Race Street with an ambitious collection of food vendors, some of which gave city diners easier access to things like Cambodian grilled meats and Japanese curries — food items which, so often before, necessitated some serious menu digging. But David Taing and Kenny Poon’s Chinatown Square brought those items to the forefront of our minds and bellies with a food hall so stacked with alternative fast-casual eateries. They even promised a Korean restaurant, Dae Bak, which would open on the second floor overlooking Race Street.
Ever-so-softly, Dae Bak opened last weekend.
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Site plans for the two proposals: Pennrose’s on the left, Parkway’s on the right. | Renderings: WRT (left) / Cecil Baker & Partners (right) via Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority
Two of Philly’s local development heavyweights, Pennrose Properties and Parkway Corporation, are duking it out for the right to develop a parcel of land the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority owns on Chinatown’s eastern edge.
This past Monday evening, the developers made their cases for their projects at an informational meeting in Chinatown.
The site in question takes up three-quarters of the block bounded by 8th, 9th, Race and Vine streets. Ridge Avenue once split this block in two diagonally, and the Chinatown station on the Broad-Ridge Spur lies beneath it as a result. This, along with the Commuter Tunnel running north-south under the station, placed some constraints on what the developers could build on the site.
The two projects are similar in several respects, but there are some key differences. Read more »
Chinatown is perfect the way it is, a shining example of a neighborhood fully bloomed, firing on all cylinders, brimming with energy and excitment. And its ever-changing foodscape rarely ceases to impress, attracting locals and tourists alike with the cunning use of bright neon, hanging ducks, and cartoon soup dumplings.
So when a two-story epic food hall called Chinatown Square soft-opens smack in the middle of it all (1018 Race Street), with a new roster of food purveyors doling everything from Middle Eastern shawarma to Cambodian meat sticks, you wonder what sort of affect it might have on the rest of the ‘hood.
I wondered, and I wondered and I wondered and I wondered, until, finally, last night, I went. And I ate.
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International House is hosting a Lunar New Year Celebration on Friday.
Lunar New Year Celebration @ International House Philadelphia | Friday, January 27
The open-to-the-public celebration at I-House starts off with samples of Chinese cuisine in the Galleria, followed by a show in the Ibrahim Theater featuring traditional Chinese music, dance and martial arts performances. It’s $15, or $10 if you’re a member or alum. Read more »
Yin & Yang | Photo by Robert Neroni
Last week I visited Hop Sing Laundromat for happy hour where North Korea’s biggest fanboy, Lê poured me a cocktail he had been working on. He wasn’t certain if the drink was better up and garnished with a Luxardo Maraschino cherry or served over a big ice cube with a an orange peel.
So Lê poured me half-measures of the drink up and on the rock and asked for my opinion. The difference in flavor between the two was striking. The breadth of flavor was made all the more striking since this was a two ingredient cocktail of Wild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel Proof Bourbon and Averna Amaro.
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There is still at least one more Night Market to enjoy this year.
On Thursday October 13th, over 60 local Chinatown restaurants, businesses and food trucks will participate in Yè Shì Night Market. The Ye Shi night market is a production of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation and is the result of several years of holding night markets in conjunction with the Food Trust.
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1100 Vine St. #506, Philadelphia, Pa. 19107 | TREND Images via Coldwell Banker Preferred
Want to wake up to the rising sun?
Love good food but don’t want to cook all the time?
Are you the type that wants to be in the center of it all, but also enjoys getting out of town?
Have we got a condo for you.
This light-filled unit is part of a 194-unit high-rise condo on Chinatown’s western fringe. Both it and the building have a number of nice amenities that make it a great place to live, not the least of which is its location, which we will get to shortly. Read more »
The freshly restored face of a Chinatown icon. | Photos: Sandy Smith
A 185-year-old landmark in the heart of Chinatown is getting ready for a possible new lease on life once the legal hurdles are cleared. While waiting for that to happen, the company that stepped in to keep it from falling into the dustbin of history (or a heap of rubble, which is the same thing) is quietly testing the waters to see whether anyone might be willing to continue its rescue effort.
Maybe not so quietly as of Wednesday evening (Aug. 17th), when the building’s conservator, Scioli Turco, invited the interested and the merely curious inside the Chinese Cultural and Community Center at 125 N. 10th St. to inspect the ready-for-its-next-chapter property. Read more »
The lot on the northwest corner of 8th and Race is currently used for parking. | Image from Google
The surface parking lot on Race Street between 8th and 9th is one of the biggest empty spaces remaining in Center City, and the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority is hoping its transformation will serve a purpose broader than the developer’s bottom line.
Later this month*, PRA will release a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the lot. For the first time, the Authority will require developers to describe the “social impact” of their development proposals. The social impact component is open-ended, including anything from affordable housing and minority-business participation to healthy food access, job creation, or even simple cash donations to nonprofits or community groups. Greg Heller, the director of the PRA, says he’s just hoping to be convinced that a particular proposal will be the best one for the neighborhood and the city. Read more »