Asian Restaurants: The 2009 Philly Mag 50

Washington Square | Japanese | Entrée: $21—$30
Ranking: 13 • Last Year’s Ranking: 10
It’s neither the newest nor the flashiest of ­Stephen Starr’s restaurants, but ­Morimoto remains his best. To be sure, the ­seven-and-a-half-year-old Japanese hot spot is a splurge (since when is a cup of miso worth $7?), but it’s also the biggest fish in Philly’s sea of sushi spots, and rightly so, given its smart Tokyo-mod decor and a toro tartare with caviar that alone is worth the trip. It’s widely known that the restaurant’s namesake, Masaharu Morimoto, is rarely in the Philly flagship; he’s usually at the New York outpost or fulfilling his Iron Chef duties. No matter. The food is beautifully executed, be it tidy little rows of sashimi or more complex dishes like the “Duck, duck, duck”—a trio of mellow roasted duck breast, rich confit risotto and a runny-yolked duck egg. And the ­service—attentive, practiced, confident—is some of the best in the city. Ask for Benjamin. Order: The Morimoto omakase, which at $120 is pricey but worth it. 723 Chestnut Street, 215-413-9070.
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Berwyn | Pan-Asian | Entrées: $21-$30
Ranking: 32 • Last Year’s Ranking: 40
“Wow. You guys really ate a lot of food!” That was our (otherwise adept) waiter, surveying the damage after a long, lovely meal at the cool French-Asian-fusion spot in Berwyn. We did order a lot: Nectar’s menu is gigantic and creative, and it’s hard to know whether you should go with an exotic meat entrée, a lighter noodle dish or the sushi. Our solution: Just get what sounds good. Nectar has earned its place among the top restaurants because so many of chef Patrick Feury’s creations turn out to be worth the order. Note to sushi-lovers: You’ll find some of the area’s best here. Order: Kung pao vegetable and tofu wok, and the chilled no-rice sushi roll with yellowtail, salmon and bass.1091 Lancaster Avenue, Berwyn, 610-725-9000. See User Reviews, Hours, & Other DetailsSee MenuMake a Reservation

Collingswood | Sushi | Entrées: $21-$30
Ranking: 38 • Last Year’s Ranking: 38
It’s not a slick atmosphere that makes this South Jersey sushi spot stand out—the hurried service and ’70s-era wood paneling can’t compare to the region’s newer sushi sellers. But there’s a reason why, after 35 years, people are stilled lined up at the door, and it’s because of Sagami’s ­never-miss-the-mark Japanese standards. Starters like tempura are impossibly light, and dumplings are homemade, while classics like teriyaki are authentic enough to put other, corner-cutting Japanese restaurants to shame. Sushi is truly the hallmark here. Again, nothing is fussy—just excellent cuts of fresh fish and simple combinations executed with precision. Order: Round out your sushi meal with a sampling of starters. 37 West Crescent Boulevard, Collingswood, 856-854-9773. See User Reviews, Hours, & Other Details

Sang Kee Asian Bistro
Wynnewood/Main Line | Chinese | Entrées: Less than $13
Ranking: 35 • Last Year’s Ranking: New to the List
All the deliciousness of its Chinatown ­sibling—the note-­perfect Peking duck, the salt-baked shrimp (tails on), those amazing egg-on-top Hong Kong noodles—with less of the bustle, more parking, and much, much more comfortably suburban style. But it’s not boring; the loud room has an air of authenticity and a spot-on price point, which is what keeps this place packed and keeps us coming back. Order: Shrimp dumpling soup with pea shoots. 339 East Lancaster Avenue, Wynnewood, 610-658-0618. See User Reviews, Hours, & Other DetailsSee Menu

China Town | Vietnamese | Entrées: $13-$20
Ranking: 39 • Last Year’s Ranking: 28
Your unadventurous parents, your foodie friends, your kids … you can take anyone to Vietnam. And people do. This Chinatown standby with a distinctly un-Chinatown ambience (polished hardwoods, a modern decor) perennially has a 30-­minute weekend waitlist. That’s thanks to things like the behemoth BBQ platter—Vietnam’s equivalent of a greatest-hits album—packed with grape leaves, lettuce-wrap fixin’s and savory grilled meatballs. It’s also thanks to aromatic broths, searing curries, and saucy pan-fried noodles. Flavors here always shine, even in the $6 dishes. (Indeed, the least-fancy food is generally the best.) Order: Wait upstairs at Bar Saigon and get the embarrassingly ostentatious Flaming Volcano cocktail for two. (It’s delicious, we swear.)221 North 11th Street, 215-592-1163. See User Reviews, Hours, & Other DetailsSee Menu

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