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Jul 24, 2006 01:23 PM

Chinese food quest in the suburbs

We keep searching for decent Chinese in the suburbs.

We've tried Sang Kee three time in Wynnewood and absolutely everything we get (unless fried) tastes, literally, like dishwater. I am baffled by the line outside this restaurant. We ordered a wide variety of dishes too.

Yang Ming or Alex Long aren't much better. At Alex Long, the waiter asked us we my husband didn't eat his dish and we were honest -- we said we couldn't taste much flavor. He said "you should have ordered it spicier" and left it at that. You could have set that dish on fire and it wouldn't have changed a thing.

We may have given up on Chinese in the suburbs and will stick to Japanese, Indian and Thai.

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  1. I always find Wild Rice in KOP to be fresh & delicious- I love their moo shu dishes & mango dishes. however they do not have all typical chinese dishes, but a very nice menu (also serve sushi). Great hot & sour soup. Have you tried any Margaret Kuo's?

    1 Reply
    1. re: pamd

      We've passed Wild Rice, I'd give that a try.

      Yes, we've tried Kuo's in two locations. It wasn't bad, but pricey. I am from NY where good, affordable Chinese was everywhere -- but maybe it only 'seemed' that way and it is really my tastes that have changed?

      We've only hit Rangoon (Burmese) in Chinatown - so we have quite a few more to try -- but I was really hoping for something decent in the suburbs around Ardmore, Wynnewood, etc.

    2. I'm surprised about what you've said about Sangkee, I have NEVER had that experience.

      I'll second the wild rice suggestion, and add one other place to try: Kontiki. It's in the Valley Forge Towers. I've been there twice and both times the food was excellent; it's not just chinese though, they have all types of asian dishes.

      1. I adore Sang Kee and recently took a friend who is from NY city. He also has lived in China. He was very impressed with the restaurant. There is a line out the door for a reason.

        1. if you don't like sangkee, you don't like it.

          Have you tried Hunan in Ardmore on Lancaster Ave? i've always loved it. best - and amazing - hot n sour soup in your area.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rumdrinks

            ITA. For years, I never liked hot-&-sour. Went there while all snuffly, hoarse and feverish for take-out one night about ten years ago. The owner looked at me really hard and said "Wait a minute," then disappeared. Came back and gave me, refused to accept payment for, the delicious hot & sour soup. I converted that night. So good!

            Years ago they used to give Chinese cooking classes upstairs, possible through Main Line Night School. I bet it would be really good if they ever offer classes now.

          2. I can't really help you, but I feel your pain! I live in the Elkins Park/Jenkintown area and have yet to find Chinese that is half-decent, in spite of numerous local places. I have never understood why it is so difficult to find a decent Chinese place in the 'burbs.

            We end up not eating as much Chinese as we'd like (fortunately, there is very good Vietnamese and Korean out this way), and making the trek into Center City when we can't take it anymore. I highly recommend Shiao Lan Kung in Center City. I think it can easily compete with many of the NYC places I've tried. Also for Szechuan, Chung King and Szechuan Tasty House are both very good.

            Good luck!

            5 Replies
            1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

              Where do you get good Vietnamese out this way? Adams Ave? I would kill to get GOOD Vietnamese near EP or Mt. Airy. My standard is Cyclo behind Ba Le Bakery at 6th and Washington.

              1. re: missclaudy

                Yes, on Adams Ave. I should be clear and say that it may not be GREAT Vietnamese, but it is quite good. Much better in relation to great Vietnamese than the Chinese places out here are in relation to Great Chinese, if that makes any sense.

                I've never been to Cyclo (need to get there one of these days), so I can't really compare, but here are the places I like: There's a little cafe inside the HK Supermarket (great large Asian market with good Vietnamese and Thai ingredients in addition to Chinese) that makes a pretty good banh mi, good drinks, and other simple dishes. Across the parking lot is Pho Hoa. This place is a little bigger with a more varied menu. The pho is ok, but there is better to be had. They make a good papaya salad, and have a number of rice platters, bun, etc. There is a shredded pork skin dish that is very good. The next shopping plaza down has a Pho 75, which is my favorite place to get Pho. Right next door is Cafe Saigon. They make the best banh mi (for $3), good beef wrapped in grape leaves, spring rolls, a few interesting soups, etc.

                All of these places are inexpensive with no real ambience. There are usually relatively few English speakers, and the servers always seem delighted that "Americans" are interested. The proprietor at Cafe Saigon seems to take particular delight in introducing us to new foods, though she can sometimes be quite pushy about it.

                1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                  Thanks for the recs, I've eaten at all of these and as you said, find them pretty mediocre. Ate at Cyclo last night. The food was on the table 45 seconds after it was cooked, I swear.The spring rolls were SO crisp and delicious. It was crazy good. Always ask for limes to add to the vinegar based sauce Nuoc Cham (the one with the carrots in it). In Vietnam, it is made with lime juice which makes the food extra delish!

                2. re: missclaudy

                  Cyclo changed to Ba Le restaurant in August 200, and it wasn't open for dinner. We had to go all the way to Nam Phuong at 11th street to eat.

                3. re: Hungryin theBurbs


                  I'm guessing that you don't much care for Mandarin Garden in Willow Grove?