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Chinese food quest in the suburbs

s
shelbyroo Jul 24, 2006 01:23 PM

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.

  1. p
    pamd Jul 24, 2006 03:43 PM

    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
      s
      shelbyroo Jul 24, 2006 04:11 PM

      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. d
      DanielleM Jul 24, 2006 05:16 PM

      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. m
        Main Line Tracey Jul 24, 2006 07:06 PM

        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. r
          rumdrinks Jul 24, 2006 07:32 PM

          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
            Mawrter Nov 14, 2007 05:34 PM

            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. h
            Hungryin theBurbs Jul 24, 2006 07:39 PM

            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
              missclaudy Jul 24, 2006 10:51 PM

              Hi,
              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
                h
                Hungryin theBurbs Jul 25, 2006 02:48 PM

                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
                  missclaudy Jul 28, 2006 08:58 PM

                  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
                  m
                  Max Buten Aug 4, 2006 01:16 AM

                  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
                  h
                  hveagle Mar 18, 2008 09:31 AM

                  Hungryintheburbs,

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

                4. d
                  DanielleM Jul 24, 2006 08:18 PM

                  Tracy, Perhaps we can convince the original poster to give Sang kee one more try. Get an order of the peking duck and try the red curry flounder -- those are mine and my DH's regular dishes, and we love them. But, three times certainly is giving a restaurant a fair shot. Maybe you are getting these items for takeout, and I always eat in? strange.

                  1. m
                    Main Line Tracey Jul 24, 2006 10:36 PM

                    I love the seafood stuffed eggplant, duck udon noodles, Peking duck, rice platters and soups. I just had to defend such a great restaurant! Not everyone has to like every restaurant, but to say that everything at a place tastes "literally, like dishwater", when there is normally a line out the door, is a bit strange.

                    I did agree that I too really do not care for Alex Long or Yang Ming much. I was happy with Margaret Quo's in Wayne though. However, it is much pricier than Sang Kee.

                    You know, I actually hope that the negative comment scared people away. It is entirely too crowed at Sang Kee. I can hardly ever get a table!

                    1. s
                      shelbyroo Jul 24, 2006 10:40 PM

                      Hi Danielle/Tracy,

                      Thanks for the reply, but I do think DH and I are done with the restaurant. Actually, I was telling my husband about this post and he mentioned that it was FOUR times, not three -- the first one was take out and I actually threw it away -- and I never throw away Chinese. Who knows, maybe I just lost a taste for it? We just moved to PA from Northern VA and we never ate Chinese in VA ...the Vietnamese, sushi, and Thai places were just too good (and plentiful)!

                      1. d
                        DanielleM Jul 25, 2006 01:03 AM

                        Hey, I totally understand, you gave sangkee more than a good chance. Usually I try someplace once and I'm DONE if it's bad.

                        Good luck on your quest, you're going into uncharted territory, many philly chows have found the burbs to be a chinese restaurant vacuum.

                        Here are two more places for discussion: Cin Cin in Chestnut Hill is upscale, but I have been there many times and have always liked it.

                        I did hear one other place a while ago that was supposed to be excellent -- but it is way out in exton. It was called Tifco's Asian Bistro. Does anyone know anything about this? I heard that the chef went somewhere else (possibly a chinatown restaurant downtown)? I have never been, just had someone from China recommend it to me.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: DanielleM
                          r
                          rumdrinks Jul 25, 2006 12:48 PM

                          Tifco's is still called Tifco's (I haven't been) but the chef opened a new place in center city called Chun King (or is it Chung King). Where is joypirate when you need him - i think he's gone there already?

                          Either way,I hear both places are preeeettttty authentic chinese, most especially in the szechuan dishes and when they say spicy, they mean spicy.

                        2. spyturtle008 Jul 25, 2006 02:51 PM

                          I too have been on an eternal quest for good 'regular' Chinese in the outlying Philly area. I don't have a magic bullet answer, but I can suggest a place if you're willing to try something a bit different. Su Tao in Malvern is a vegan Chinese restaurant with an excellent buffet. I don't know that it will fit the bill for you as superior 'standard-issue' Chinese (if that phrase makes any sense!), but their lemon 'chicken', garlic stringbeans, and twice-cooked spicy tofu are to die for... (Save room for the fried bananas!)

                          1. s
                            shelbyroo Jul 25, 2006 03:19 PM

                            Thanks spyturtle - Su Tao sounds very interesting and I'll defintely give it a try and report back.

                            rumdrinks - I think we went to Hunan in Ardmore once but I don't remember much about it -- perhaps we'll try again.

                            And thanks to all those who gave city recommendations.

                            1. k
                              ken from conshy Jul 25, 2006 08:12 PM

                              Golden Chariot in Colmar on rt 309. They have two menus oneEnglish and a different one in Chinese. There is a fish tank when you enter. Very accommodating. You can determine the ingredients including sauce and spice. Often, there are no causcasians in restaurant. They do a big Chinese banquet biz. Not elegant but authentic.

                              1. j
                                JohnnyT Jul 26, 2006 12:17 AM

                                Try Mandarin Garden in Willow Grove.

                                1. y
                                  yingmatt Aug 10, 2007 10:04 AM

                                  I am Chinese and was born in Beijing. I know what good Chinese food tastes like. I love Cin Cin on Germantown Pike, Chestnut Hill.

                                  1. m
                                    michael Aug 10, 2007 11:19 AM

                                    Hunan on rt 30 in Ardmore is wonderful. Delicious food. Always pleasant service and a nice intimate (maybe 15-20 table?), white tablecloth atmosphere.

                                    1. b
                                      becky315 Aug 13, 2007 12:51 PM

                                      I'll agree on the Wild Rice suggestion, it's usually very good. Also a little further north on 202 is Lai Lai Garden in Blue Bell, which is always a favorite of ours - they have very good sushi, and their Chinese menu has never dissapointed. They always seem to have good service as well.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: becky315
                                        i
                                        idia Aug 13, 2007 01:36 PM

                                        Nectar in Berwyn.
                                        Period!!

                                      2. Rondo Aug 14, 2007 08:22 PM

                                        If you ever get out to Exton, China Bistro. It's in one of the myriad shopping centers, on Route 100. If you are traveling north toward the Turnpike, it is past Route 30 on the left. Have never been let down by the food. They have two menus, one in English and one in Chinese. However, when I really get a craving for Chinese food I simply grit my teeth, hop in the car, and make the drive to Chinatown.. Not sure what's worse, the traffic into the city or trying to find a parking space.

                                        1. g
                                          gaffnova44 Mar 15, 2008 04:50 PM

                                          I will second the suggestion for Hunan in Ardmore. You mentioned you're ariound Ardmore, how do you not know more about this restaurant?!?

                                          While modestly priced, and predominately sticking to a straight-forward Chinese restaurant menu-- the food is outstandingly good in a very laid-back atmosphere. Or, you can get it for take-out. It's about as gourmet as you can get for standard Chinese fare. You won't find anything too innovative... just excellently executed according to tradition.

                                          I am absolutely addicted to their Hunan Filet, and the egg-rolls are unbelievable. I hear amazing things about the sweet 'n sour on several accounts as well, but I'm not a big fan of that kind of soup.

                                          Go there, you will enjoy it!

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: gaffnova44
                                            s
                                            Schpsychman Mar 17, 2008 09:24 AM

                                            I am definitely NOT a big fan of Chinese food (prefer Indian, Vietnamese and Thai WAY more) but I have to say that Abacus in Lansdale is pretty good. Their "sister" restaurant, Yantze is pretty good as well, but not as good as Abacus. And to the poster above, it's Golden City on 309 in Colmar and the times I've eaten there was off the American menu and it was horrible. Haven't tried ordering off the Chinese menu (which I do hear is MUCH better) frankly because I'm a bit apprehensive to.

                                            1. re: Schpsychman
                                              crazyspice Mar 18, 2008 09:52 AM

                                              I have to concur with everything you just posted! I have ordered from the Chinese menu at Golden City. I haven't been back! I have taken Chinese off my list completely.

                                          2. p
                                            productionjon Jul 12, 2008 07:00 PM

                                            Tried Wild Rice in K of P tonight. Excellent Chinese and Japanese.
                                            A very delightful find!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: productionjon
                                              f
                                              FoolForFood Jul 14, 2008 09:25 AM

                                              Did you notice an overwhelming bleaching agent scent? That's the one thing I remember about my one trip there. The sushi is not fresh (for a Saturday night) and the stir fries are watered down.

                                            2. m
                                              Mr Siegal Jul 13, 2008 10:33 AM

                                              the place to go in Wynnewood area is Szechuan Express. Its in the shopping center on City Line, next to the Olive Garden and Acme. Believe me, its a take out only place that seems really scary because its set back in the shopping center but it is great. They have the usual Chinese food but it is excellent. We always get the Moo Shu, Chicken with Garlic Sauce, Szechuan Beef, and the dumplings are really good. On Thurs, Fri, Sat, they include some kind of pickled cabbage with your order that is awesome. It is sweet and sour at the same time, i love it. But seriously if you are looking for good, reliable, take out try this place.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Mr Siegal
                                                f
                                                FoolForFood Jul 14, 2008 09:27 AM

                                                I frequented Szechuan Express before I discovered (praise the lord!) Chung Sing's on Lancaster Ave.

                                                p.s. Szechuan over does it on the garlic.

                                                1. re: FoolForFood
                                                  m
                                                  Mr Siegal Jul 14, 2008 10:35 AM

                                                  mmmmm, the more garlic the better. you are right though, it is a lot more than any place i've been to. I'm actually dying here in Pittsburgh because there isn't anything close to even Szechuan Express, let alone a Sang Kee or Lakeside Deli type of place

                                                  1. re: Mr Siegal
                                                    m
                                                    mkertello Feb 19, 2010 08:33 AM

                                                    Szechuan Express was a go-to for lunch for me as I worked in the office building right next door. $5-6 lunch specials made it a bargain too. The Chi-Yang chicken was always my go-to, but I can't say that anything on the menu left me unhappy. Definitely agree that it's very reliable.

                                              2. s
                                                sagestrat Jul 14, 2008 01:18 PM

                                                You simply MUST go to Han Dynasty in Exton (route 100 in the strip mall behind the McDonalds). Very authentic. Outstanding! There should be a long thread on this board singing their praises.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: sagestrat
                                                  p
                                                  phillyjazz Nov 29, 2009 02:23 PM

                                                  Han Dynasty has some killer dishes (fried fish with dry Szechaun peppers is to die for.)

                                                  1. re: sagestrat
                                                    i
                                                    isadorasmama Feb 7, 2010 11:13 AM

                                                    they are now in royersford, too. we've been hearing great things but only just tried them today. WOW. best chinese we've had in ages -- and most certainly the best outside of a big city.
                                                    i agree....han dynasty needs its very own thread here!

                                                    1. re: sagestrat
                                                      spyturtle008 Feb 8, 2010 05:14 AM

                                                      Can anyone speak to whether or not Han Dynasty is veg-friendly? TIA.

                                                      1. re: spyturtle008
                                                        i
                                                        isadorasmama Feb 8, 2010 07:13 AM

                                                        They have vegetarian items on their menu. I have no idea if they're completely free of animal ingredients or not so your best bet would probably be to call and ask. :)
                                                        One of the things we tried was bok choy with black mushrooms and it was incredibly delicious. We had a meat dish that also had tofu and the tofu was flavorful and cooked perfectly.

                                                        1. re: isadorasmama
                                                          spyturtle008 Feb 12, 2010 06:22 AM

                                                          Thanks -- I'll have to check it out!

                                                    2. l
                                                      LuvDessert Jul 14, 2008 05:28 PM

                                                      Veekoo in Royersford is one of our favorites.

                                                      1. r
                                                        rocknroll52 Jul 16, 2008 06:58 AM

                                                        Shelbyroo, I am very surprised to hear you didn't like Yang Ming. In my opinion, Yang Ming is hands down the best Chinese/Asian restaurant on the Eastern Main Line, if price is no object. Did you try the dumplings there? I suspect you have simply lost your taste for Chinese food, since you mentioned liking the spicier flavors of Indian and Thai cuisine. But, if you haven't given up on Chinese althogether, I would give Yang Ming another try. If you want something more low budget, I would second the recommendation of Chun Sing in Wynnewood. Another local favorite is Chun Hing which is in the Pathmark shopping center in Philadelphia near the new Target store. I recommend the squid with five spicy taste, ask for it extra spicy!! I agree with your comment on Sang Kee, can't understand why everyone goes there, it is overpriced and I like their location in Chinatown much better.

                                                        1. s
                                                          squashchick Jul 16, 2008 12:14 PM

                                                          From a Narberthian, my $.02, FWIW:
                                                          When I first moved to this area I was happy to find Chung Sing, probably because it's in an old diner and looks cute. I wanted to like it - really I did - but I came to the conclusion that it was just too greasy for me. Now I get my standard takeout from Szechuan Garden Inn (behind the Subway & Human Zoom at 47 W. Lancaster). Previous poster who mentioned the owner is right on: I forgot my wallet one night and she gave me the food anyway. Trusted me to pay later (which I did). Anyone else have thoughts on that one?

                                                          I thought Yang Ming and Margaret Kuo were excellent, but too pricey for my "everyday" Chinese. Must try Hu-Nan, but entrance looks forbidding.

                                                          I've taken out from SangKee and eaten in a few times and though I'm partial to its Four Seasons dish I can understand why not everyone is sold on the place. Part of the reason (I think) it's so popular is that the mod-ish decor is much nicer than your usual Chinese neighborhood restaurant so there's not that strip mall atmosphere issue (only that decibel ear busting issue).

                                                          Anyone been to Auspicous in Ardmore?

                                                          1. r
                                                            rocknroll52 Jul 17, 2008 08:14 AM

                                                            I have been to Auspicious and can report as follows based on a recent experience.
                                                            With coupon in hand, we had are hopes up about our first visit to Auspicious. The restaurant is situated on Cricket Ave, convenient to the public parking lot, and next to the Milkboy cafe. After a ten-minute wait for a table, we were seated in a booth in the back room. The restaurant was busy and a bit noisy, perhaps a little more noisy than usual because of street musicians outside for "First Friday" in Ardmore.

                                                            Let's start by saying this is not your typical chinese/asian restaurant. No bottle of soy sauce on the table, no complimentary pot of tea or crispy wontons with dipping sauce. No chinese paintings or ornate statues. A sparsely decorated room with dark wood paneling and tables. Our waitress was a perky young non-asian woman who spoke perfect English. She brought us glasses of ice water served with lemon wedges.

                                                            The menu also is not your typical Chinese fare, although you can order some of the old standbys like eggrolls, potstickers, wonton soup, lo mein and general tso's chicken. But, surprisingly, the menu includes burgers, sandwiches, salads and wraps. In honor of First Friday, a 9 item tasting menu (priced at $60 per couple) was also offered, although we did not try it.

                                                            We opted for interesting sounding appetizers of Crispy Crab Wontons ($6.95) and Salt & Pepper Calamari ($6.95). Both were a disappointment. The crispy wontons were stuffed with a mixture of cream cheese and crabmeat that was very light on the crabmeat. The dipping sauce was a cloying sweet & sour sauce. A smallish servicng of calamari came out looking like fried onion rings. Too big for one bite, but you can't bite through a tough ring of squid. Somewhat greasy, and not salty as you would have thought from the description.

                                                            We fared better with our entrees of Bambooz Basil Chicken ($10.95) and Eggplant in Garlic Sauce ($8.50). The chicken was flavored with basil and ginger and slightly spicy. The eggplant had a slightly sweet and spicy sauce. We polished both ott, washed down with the bottles of cold beer we had brought. Noticed that some other customers had brought wine.

                                                            Note: servings here are small compared to your average chinese restaurant and you will not have leftovers. The entrees were not set up for sharing. Our entrees were accompanied by a super-small bowl of rice (white or brown). We opted for brown rice which was rather dry and unappetizing. Dispite the small servings, we were full after appetizer and entree, so did not have a chance to sample the dessert selections.

                                                            A highlight of the meal was the tea we ordered after dinner. Several choices of tea are offered, and we chose oolong. The tea was served in a decorative pot, piping hot. Brewed with loose tea leaves, it was delicious! If you enjoy tea, I recommend it. Pot of tea was $2.50.

                                                            So, do I recommend this place? Would I go back? The entrees were good, but not astounding. Perhaps we had bad luck on the appetizers. Prices were very moderate (with the $5 coupon, our tab was under $40 for the two of us). I would say this restaurant is worth a try if you are already in or near Ardmore, but not worth a trip from farher away.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: rocknroll52
                                                              p
                                                              phillyjazz Nov 29, 2009 02:22 PM

                                                              I eat at Auspicious a lot, even though the food is way under-spiced for my tastes. I love the Peking Duck roll as an appetizer, and their potstickers are also good Dough not too thick or thin, and generously filled. I prefer their beef dishes (tangerine is a good choice) and their "create-your-own" stir fry can be pretty good. I like their Lo-mein (as opposed to rice) as it is always hot and not too greasy.

                                                              Anyway, I find their ingredients to be fresh and of good quality. I just wish they would spice things up a bit more. Even if you ask for a dish spicy, you will likely be disappointed.

                                                            2. marygwen Mar 29, 2009 05:37 AM

                                                              Have you tried Yantzee in Lansdale? It is owned by the folks who also own the chinese restaurant across from north penn high school. Awesome fresh gourmet chinese. Usually the owners are there to ensure a good dining experience. Also it is BYOB so the bill is nice and low!

                                                              1. s
                                                                shelbyroo Mar 31, 2009 04:59 PM

                                                                I haven't seen my old post in a while, so it was interesting to catch up. I can't say we have any positive updates on good Chinese in the suburbs. These days we venture outside the suburbs and go to Lee How Fook. (Note: But good news -- for Japanese food, not Chinese, is Harusame opened in Wynnewood under new management and it is pretty good -- though I wish they would season the sushi rice!)

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: shelbyroo
                                                                  Delucacheesemonger Feb 17, 2010 11:25 AM

                                                                  Just took an apartment in Phila after many years away in a different country. Brought up my children in Wynnewood and spot on agree with you on all your statements on Chinese on the Main Line. Where l live now l walk to Lee How Fook and they are on my speed dialer, enough said. Now the bad news, chef's changes in the last few months makes me worry a lot. Went a week or so ago and the hot and sour was neither hot nor sour, plenty of stuff but no blast like always, will try again soon and hopefully that was just a bad day. If you want company to LHF, please contact me on my email listed.

                                                                2. l
                                                                  littlecmad Nov 29, 2009 09:38 AM

                                                                  Not sure if you would calle it the Suburbs, but Szchuan East at Welsh and Veree Roads in N.E. Philly has always been my all time favorite! Also, Mandarin Garden in Willow Grove is more than descent. And what about P.F.Changs? There is one in Plymouth Meeting and Warrington!

                                                                  1. f
                                                                    Fookie Feb 17, 2010 11:09 AM

                                                                    For the people that haven't tried Han Dynasty and thinks they know Chinese food. Think again.....

                                                                    1. g
                                                                      givemecarbs Feb 17, 2010 11:32 AM

                                                                      A new place is opening soon in the shopping center where DeKalb produce is in Blue Bell. Nothing fancy but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. If they are open this friday I'll report back.

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: givemecarbs
                                                                        crazyspice Feb 17, 2010 11:53 AM

                                                                        Great Carbs! I can't wait to hear.

                                                                        1. re: crazyspice
                                                                          g
                                                                          givemecarbs Feb 19, 2010 10:24 PM

                                                                          Still not open. Grumble. Had to console myself with brisket Pho from the place near Pudges. It really hit the spot!

                                                                          1. re: givemecarbs
                                                                            thehungrything Feb 20, 2010 05:30 PM

                                                                            The place near Pudges is Pho Thai Nam. I tried it once, and thought it was so awful I never gave it another try.

                                                                            1. re: thehungrything
                                                                              g
                                                                              givemecarbs Feb 20, 2010 06:48 PM

                                                                              What did you order thehungrything? At least hounds are able to find Pudges new location. I see they won a reader's choice award for 2009.

                                                                              1. re: givemecarbs
                                                                                thehungrything Feb 23, 2010 04:08 PM

                                                                                Pudge's is great. Excellent cheesesteaks on excellent rolls. The only thing good we tried at Pho Thai Nam was the Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk.
                                                                                I had the "vietnamese spring rolls", the pho, my kids tried some of the Thai dishes. The spring rolls were absolutely not Vietnamese spring rolls. They were two small extremely greasy chinese style spring rolls with barely any filling, no clear noodles or ground pork, no shatteringly crunchy skin, and they tasted like fried fish, as if fried in the Filet o fish fryer at McDonalds. The Pho was metallic tasting and just bad. The Thai entrees, Pad Thai and a red curry were inedible, too sweet, no real thai flavors, gloppy. Food so bad.
                                                                                Happily there is a terrific Korean restaurant around the corner from Pudges on Township Line road.

                                                                              2. re: thehungrything
                                                                                m
                                                                                mrslloyddobler Mar 1, 2010 06:52 PM

                                                                                agreed.

                                                                        2. p
                                                                          phillydogs Feb 17, 2010 12:48 PM

                                                                          sign me up for another vote for Mandarin Garden in willow grove

                                                                          1. p
                                                                            paradigm1974 Feb 19, 2010 04:50 AM

                                                                            You'd be remiss not to check out Lai Lai Garden in Blue Bell, PA and Sampan Inn in Havertown, PA.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: paradigm1974
                                                                              e
                                                                              elmom Feb 21, 2010 10:30 AM

                                                                              I second the Sampan Inn (brookline blvd and darby rd in havertown) we live in ardmore and go there --when we can remember it! They have typical Chinese offerings, but very fresh and tasty. traditional, large portions too and a huge menu with something for everyone. they also have japanese side that offers sushi--so if your family is split between those who love sushi and those who don't --like ours--it's a good choice.

                                                                            2. k
                                                                              Kshell Feb 24, 2010 06:49 AM

                                                                              Try East Cuisine in the Ambler/Blue Bell area if you're up that way. They have a good pork with preserved turnip soup which I have only been able to find in Chinatown.

                                                                              1. m
                                                                                MarkB618 Mar 26, 2010 11:51 AM

                                                                                As far as the suburbs go, Chong's Dumpling House in Lansdale and Mr. Lee's Asian Gourmet are about as good as it gets.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: MarkB618
                                                                                  m
                                                                                  MarkB618 Mar 26, 2010 07:55 PM

                                                                                  I would also add Hong Kong Kitchen in Lansdale to that list.

                                                                                2. b
                                                                                  bsquared11 Mar 26, 2010 02:52 PM

                                                                                  I second Mandarin Garden in Willow Grove and Szechuan East in NE Philly. Have been going to both for 18 years and always a good meal. Also, Hunan Village in Abington is good. Yang Ming in Bryn Mawr is the most overrated Chinese restaurant in the Philly suburb IMHO.

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                                                                                    shellybe Jun 14, 2010 06:21 AM

                                                                                    We had dinner at Szechuan Garden Inn, on Lancaster Ave(in Ardmore in the parking lot behind the bike store) We were impressed with the food as well as the service. The steamed chicken dumplings were unusally good. When I asked the owner about them, she took great pride in the fact that she makes the noodle dough herself. This is a great hidden find.

                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: shellybe
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                                                                                      Bashful3 Jun 14, 2010 08:36 AM

                                                                                      I'm surprised that Chun Hing in Bala, next to the Pathmark, sorta behind the new Target has not been mentioned. What it is is reliable. Same owners for the last 40 years at least.

                                                                                      Outstanding dishes, in my opinion, starting with apps are the fried meat dumplings,(I never order them anywhere else, because I know I"ll be disappointed), the pork and turnip soup (loaded with al dente string beans). My favorite mains are shrimp Shing Tao style with watercress (huge fresh shrimp_, lobster with either garlic and ginger or believe it or not, straight old Cantonese style sauce. ((I may love whole Maine lobster when in New England, but if they have lobstedr at all at Chun Hing, it will not disappoint. I've had tilapia with black bean sauceor ginger and scallion that hit the spot, and my inexpensive fave: clams in black bean sauce.

                                                                                      Give it a try, and overlook dumpy booths, dingy bathrooms. Service accomodating: this is a lively place, nothing fancy: totally reliable.

                                                                                      1. re: Bashful3
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                                                                                        FayeD Jun 14, 2010 07:37 PM

                                                                                        I have been craving Lobster Cantonese but haven't wanted to go into Philadelphia for it. Your post made me excited but when I looked at their on-line menu, didn't see any mention of lobster. Is this something they only have once in a while?

                                                                                        1. re: FayeD
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                                                                                          Bashful3 Jun 15, 2010 02:40 AM

                                                                                          I didn't know they had an online menu! While they do do a lot of takeout, and they probably don't have Lobster in house 100% of the time, they have had it jjust about every time I show up to eat there, which is fairly often. Safest thing would be to call them two days ahead of time, and ask whether they have it. At worst, they would say ';yes', and go out and get it so they would have it.

                                                                                          Hey Faye, I'd even meet you there, not that I would want to share a lobster!!! We could get two! I left out something: these aren't puny little lobsters too difficult to get the meat out of--they have always been succulent and scrumptious.

                                                                                          I would never order lobster cantonese or even with ginger and scallion for takeout. It really needs to be hot and sizzling. Also, they aren't cheap--a fair price I would say. Recently, $25 I guess. Too expensive for them to take the risk that a rogue customer would order and leave them with wasted food.

                                                                                          But, I will show off. Sometimes I come in, and before being seated, the owner will say, "we have lobster today!" But, I do think they have it most of the time. When feeling like a gotta have a seafood fix I will sometimes order the Shrimp Shing Tao style, or the clams with black bean sauce.

                                                                                          1. re: Bashful3
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                                                                                            FayeD Jun 15, 2010 02:01 PM

                                                                                            Sounds great. I will follow your advice. I don't mind spending the $25 for a good Lobster Cantonese. A restaurant not far from me used to have it once in a while but when I asked the last time, they said they aren't carrying it anymore. I would definitely eat there. While Bala is closer than Center City, it still is at least 30 minutes away and this is definitely something I would want to eat hot. Thanks.

                                                                                            1. re: FayeD
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                                                                                              Bashful3 Jun 15, 2010 04:32 PM

                                                                                              I left something out. The parking is great, free and ample and right outside the door. enjoy!

                                                                                    2. paychecktoday Jun 14, 2010 09:32 AM

                                                                                      Suprisingly the chinese restaurant in the springfield shopping ctr (where moe's bar and grill and hibachi is located) is suprisingly very good. i cant remember the name, something garden

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                                                                                        Whinerdiner Jun 15, 2010 11:38 AM

                                                                                        There is a good place near me in Broomall. King Fu is delicious. It's not fancy, basic strip mall Chinese Restaurant decor - no liquor license. While we never actually dine in, the line for take-out is usually out the door. I've gotten spoiled having such a good place so close to home.

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                                                                                          littlecmad Jun 23, 2010 01:09 PM

                                                                                          I have ALWAYS thought Szchuan East in NE Philly at Red Lion and Veree is the best! Mandarin Garden in Willow Grove is in second.

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: littlecmad
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                                                                                            monchichi Jun 23, 2010 07:48 PM

                                                                                            I have to admitt that this topic has always been a passion of mine. I have thought about this question long and hard and it has boiled down to american chinese and native chinese. There are some very good american chinese but the bad far outweigh the good, and in my mind turns most people off too chinese food, and I believe IMO that this does a huge diservice to the quality and passion for authentic chinese food, from the many provinces and cultures of china. I find myself wanting the real deal more and more, especially the authentic and it kills me that not more food owners channel there passion for food than for the mainstream. Find a Hong Kong noodle in phila, please tell me. Going into a restaurant and having two menus really says it all, and when I order from the "non-american" menu it is a real crap shoot as to the quality that it will be. This is a funtion of that management. I have been a customer of Hans in both exton and collegville and when the young guy is there and his passion was going he wanted me to be happy and impressed and delighted with kicking up my taste buds, recently I have been to both again, and I have heard he is busy in town with another venture, the mark is not the same, meaning the passion to make me the satisfied customer is not there. I, like you all have a passion for great food, and this kinda gets me down. Why don't more chinese food rest owners realize there potential and kick it up? So for me this is a big bummer. Hopelessly looking for the real deal.

                                                                                            1. re: monchichi
                                                                                              Rondo Jun 25, 2010 02:12 PM

                                                                                              Thank you monchichi for your thoughts. I was a big fan of Han Dynasty until they opened the third branch in Philadelphia. The last two times I have been to Han in Exton the food has been less than stellar, leaving me adrift as far as good Chinese in the 'burbs goes. If anyone has a new favorite place in that area let me know.

                                                                                              1. re: Rondo
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                                                                                                Dezygnher35 Jun 26, 2010 01:12 PM

                                                                                                Dinner at a place that I have been very curious about.

                                                                                                Finally tasty authentic quality Asian cuisine in the suburbs…reasonably priced!!! Thursday evening 6/24/10 I took someone out for a birthday celebration. The Jasmine Cafe 3140 West Ridge Pike, Eagleville, PA‎ is hidden near the intersection of Eagle Stream Drive & West Mt Kirk Avenue, nearby a Firehouse, Genuardi's & Salter's Ski Shop.

                                                                                                The interior is not red & gold. The decor is tasteful with black and white photos of Asian life/culture in times gone by. Black panel rises to a light chair rail, topped with a rich cinnabar wall.

                                                                                                Dinner for 2, including 2 apps, a family style soup (could feed 4 people), & 2 entrees was approximate fifty five dollars. Each of the plates ordered had a distinctive flavor. I warn that the Seafood hot & sour soup was a bit spicy for my taste, but a drop of sesame oil cut the heat. The Duck rolls were a great change of pace! The vegetables were fresh, and I was most impressed by the Chilean Sea Bass in a Garlic Sauce.

                                                                                                The Jasmine Cafe offers an early bird special, for $7.99, and coupons are
                                                                                                available on their website as well as Restaurant.com. It is a BYOB establishment.

                                                                                                …Much better than “Ms. Margaret’s" food!!! This place beats “YM” in many ways!

                                                                                                www.jasminecafepa.com

                                                                                          2. thehungrything Jun 26, 2010 01:45 PM

                                                                                            Many suburban restaurants are combinations of Asian cuisines, Chinese Thai and Japanese and Korean. Never can you get something authentic at one of them.

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                                                                                              blubryscone Jul 8, 2010 09:35 AM

                                                                                              Margaret Kuo's of Frasier is very good, but in the past 5 years the quality of their food has been going down as more and more people are coming. If you order off of the Chinese menu though, their food is still as ever excellent. As an added bonus, their Xiaolongbao (soup dumpling, little dragon steam bun... ask for it off of the Chinese menu) are the best I've ever had; In the states or in China.

                                                                                              Hong Garden is the best Chinese in Paoli area. We have we been going to them for years. The food is prepared fresh and we have never been disappointed. The restaurant itself is clean and pleasent. Portions are more than generous, even the take-out is served in reusable plastic containers, versus the classic paper box.

                                                                                              Both are very good, Hong Garden is the much less expensive, but their food is wonderful.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: blubryscone
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                                                                                                wcgal Jul 9, 2010 05:51 AM

                                                                                                Is there an english translation of the Chinese menu at Margaret Kuo's in Frasier? Do you have to ask for the menu? I have been there but have never seen the Chinese menu.

                                                                                              2. AgentRed Jul 8, 2010 08:48 PM

                                                                                                I tried Hunan in Ardmore (on Lancaster Ave) because of the rave reviews it got in this thread. At first glance I was rearing to be disappointed - my noodles were in a little tub and the sauce had just been spooned on top. Plus the egg roll seemed like the same insta-fry type you get at places like Chung Sing (whose chef is skilled at microwaving and little else).

                                                                                                So imagine my surprise when the egg roll was delicious, and the noodles, cold and light, were exactly what you need in this weather. Both dishes were fresh, tasty and unique -- I had no idea I'd find chilled noodles on the Main Line, or decent chilled noodles outside NYC.

                                                                                                The bottom line is that Hunan is worth trying, and right now ranks as my favourite Chinese place on the main line. Thanks for the rec chowhounds!

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: AgentRed
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                                                                                                  jemom Jul 9, 2010 08:04 PM

                                                                                                  I second the Hunan recommendation. I was so happy when they reopened last week. The hot and sour soup, mu shu chicken and hunan chicken are my favorites. I also love the egg rolls soemthing I typically don't eat at other places.

                                                                                                  The totally new interior looks fantastic too.

                                                                                                  1. re: jemom
                                                                                                    soultender Jul 10, 2010 06:26 AM

                                                                                                    Su Tao in Frazer! Vegan, fresh, delicious!

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                                                                                                  grlwhoeats Jul 11, 2010 08:23 PM

                                                                                                  Han Dynasty in Royersford. Helloooo tea smoked duck! Oh. My. Goodness. Chinese food nirvana in this sleepy little suburb in the middle of what was formerly the sticks.

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