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The best bargain in town (Philly)

Tonight was a reminder of what we think is the best bargain around.

We finally found a parking space within walking distance of Lakeside Deli, on 9th St. just above Race. We always order dim sum, which doesn't come one carts, but is ordered from the menu - freshly made.

We had:

beef and peanut dumplings (3)

shrimp dumplings (4) - and each kind of dumpling has a different shape, different kind of wrapper

stuffed eggplant (4) - is it shrimp mousse? something delicious

honey roasted pork - a whole pile of pieces, not fatty

Chiu Chow shrimp roll (3) - not a roll at all, really - a crispy cube stuffed with shrimp, chopped water chestnuts and other goodies - amazing!

A sweet for after - hot egg custard buns (3)

Our bill for all of this was $15.40, including tax. And we were full!

We have never been there when it was more than half full, although there seemed to be a steady stream of take-out pickups. Service is wonderful.

The place is plain - no sight of a deli or a lake - but for any of you who haven't discovered it yet, give yourself a treat. We've taken two food writers there (at different times) and they both loved it. Craig Laban gave it a great writeup. We get worried, because we don't want this place to go out of business. Go and report back!

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  1. I forgot to say that I think it is cash only. Not sure. But you can see why!

    1. I don't think you have much to worry about. I get lunch from Lakeside pretty often (or at least whenever I manage to get out of the office), and it's always an order-by-phone-or-wait-a-while deal - because they're quite busy, not because they're slow. Moreover, I always see the restaurant at least half full whenever I go get my lunch, provided I do it when normal people get to eat lunch.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Ali

        I am so glad! What are your favorites?

        1. re: Ali

          They're often busy on on the weekends at lunchtime (or a bit later). They give little dim sum-ish things for free while you are waiting. Delish. I love the baby bok choy and various dumpling-y things and one very complicated broth-based soup. I think I could just point at random and love it. Love Lakeside.

          1. re: Mawrter

            Well pooh! I've never gotten things to eat while I wait, and I'm there often enough that the lady recognizes me by the one thing I always order (deep friend taro). Oh well. Still a good spot and a darn good fried taro. The chinese broccoli is also yummy and rounds out what I need any good dimsum place to have.

            1. re: Ali

              If you come with a conspicuously squirmy and hungry-looking little kid, you might up your chances of getting free treats! ;-)

        2. Thanks for the detailed post! I have been curious about the place....

          1 Reply
          1. re: munch_kin

            We were just there late afternoon today after museum trip with the kids -- so odd time like 4:30. We all ate well -- shrimp dumplings, meat & peanut dumplings, pork shu mai, fried dumplings, crispy turnip cake, spring rolls, bowl of roast pork noodle soup, and a chicken and veg/rice dish for the kids. All this and it was $20 -- and all delicious.

            They were out of the crispy taro though!

            Has anyone had any of their hot pot specials (listed on all those papers on the wall)? I'd love to hear some opinions of them. We rarely get past the dim sum and the soups! By the way -- the soup is $3.50 for a bowl full of roast pork and 4 people can easily share it -- just ask for extra little bowls.

            And even that early -- there was a steady stream of takeout orders! So they are well entrenched!

          2. yum! i was passing by yesterday so i stopped in for lunch.
            i had sesame balls, veggie rolls, and a pan-fried crispy noodle entree with veggies and tofu - all for $9! what's more, i could have ordered about 1/3 of that and been full.
            has anyone else ordered the sesame balls? what ARE they? for those who haven't had them, it's a tennis-ball-sized wad of something similar in taste and consistency to cream of wheat, the outside of the ball coated with the sesame seeds, and inside the ball a weird caramel-like filling. it's on the apps menu, but is sweet enough for dessert for me!

            anyway, a wonderful bargain, and good food, AND i asked and they're open christmas day, so i'm sure we will be making the trek to chinatown at least once for the lakeside deli!!

            8 Replies
            1. re: rabidog

              I haven't made them myself, but I think sesame balls are made from glutinous rice flour. They can have different fillings. I believe Lakeside's are filled with sweet red bean paste, but I haven't had them in a while so I could be wrong. I agree, I think Lakeside's sesame balls are really tasty, and not oily like some other places' versions. The fried taro is also really good, as Ali pointed out, and not oily. I still don't like the peanut dumplings though, they taste oddly fishy.

              1. re: Dib

                ah, thanks for that - i never would have guessed from them! at $1.85 for 3 (or 4, depending on if you're a regular i guess), what a bargain!

                this is the food that just keeps on giving. my aforementioned $9 lunch yesterday? it also served as dinner last night, and i'm finishing it up for dinner right at this moment. 3 meals for $9. i can't cook for myself at home cheaper than that!

                1. re: rabidog

                  I love it there but need to break out of my shell. Any dim sum reccs rabidog or others that are completely vegetarian? A long time ago they warned me a lot of veggie items had dried shrimp. Now I mostly stick to the entrees. Please help with ideas. The menu overwhelms me.

                  1. re: saturninus

                    well, i need to make it back for another visit... i was just dining alone, which is always unfortunate because i only get to try a small section of the menu.

                    though i can say the three things i had were very tasty, if i were to skip one next time it would be the vegetable roll (really 6 pieces of roll) because it was pretty greasy... even though i did like the vegetables within. the sauce it came with (a thick, dark red sauce) i was not a big fan of either. i didn't see any dried shrimp... that stuff freaks me out.

                    the pan fried noodles i ordered with vegetables, and asked them to add tofu which wasn't on the menu. they were very accommodating, and next time i'd probably ask them to add even more tofu because i really liked it! nice and moist. the sauce was a light brown garlicky sauce. when i reheated it at home i added some chopped garlic, salt and white pepper, and it was even better...

                    the sesame balls were seriously almost enough to lure me out there again tonight. weirdest things ever. i've been craving them ever since i ate them, even though they lack the ingredients i usually crave (and by that i mean cheese).

                    the people next to me were eating a flat wide rice noodle in a brown sauce; i should have asked which dish they got because that's my favorite noodle.

                    i'll post again next time i visit... not likely to be this week as it's a busy one, but i do plan on racing there the next time i get!

                    1. re: rabidog

                      Unfortunately I know the vegetable roll has dried shrimp

                      1. re: saturninus

                        i stand corrected then. though those rolls did totally come apart when i tried to halve them with a fork (my mistake!) and i didn't notice anything shrimpy inside... i saw mushrooms... cabbage... but honestly i didn't pay much attention because i was spying on what everyone else around me was getting so i have some tips for next time. :)
                        i'm a pretty half-assed vegetarian who does make some seafood concessions, but i could see how a stricter vegetarian would be pissed. i had specifically asked what was recommended for a vegetarian, and those were the first thing mentioned. odd. i'll ask, too, my next time there.

                        foolforfood: i'm with you on the noodles - i had the exact same ones, except i added tofu (recommended!). but, i saw the too-much-sauce as a good thing! i loved how garlicky it was. and i loved how the noodles towards the outside of the dish were crispy, a nice contrast to the noodles sitting in the sauce.

                      2. re: rabidog

                        The wide flat noodle is usually called ho fun noodle. Entrees are vegatable ho fun, beef ho fun, etc.

                        1. re: FoolForFood

                          mmmm, thanks! i'm going to become a regular of this place i think! i was there again over the weekend... like a boring old slug two out of three of the things i ordered were repeats... but well worth it. those sesame balls are AMAzing. they were a little greasier this time around but i really can't complain because the deliciousness overwhelms that. also got that veggie pan fried noodle; it's def made fresh because i have them add tofu... and at the beginning of the dish i noticed most of the noodles were crispy, but as the meal went on, they became soft as they were steaming under a mountain of veggies, and becoming saturated with the sauce. man that dish is amazing, i'm hooked. dare i say it's my favorite thing in chinatown so far? hmmmm, i might have to rank it tied with the wide rice noodles with veggies at vietnam palace. but right up there. next up is ocean harbor, and i have a free weekend coming up, yay!

              2. Definitely very good. I think their price is cheaper than other dim sum places. Because there's no cart, you have to know what to order. We had porridge/congee (which needed some salt but tasted very clean), steamed spare ribs, shrimp dumplings, crispy fried triangle and taro, curried squid, roasted duck, chinese sausage bun. 2 of us couldn't finish half of it of course. But everything we had were very good.

                6 Replies
                1. re: baekster

                  I tried Lakeside for the very first time last weekend. The only other Phila dim sum experience I've had was at Ocean Harbor and it was a true disapointment compared to NYC dim sum.

                  As for Lakeside, my dim sum partner and I ordered har gau, shiu mai (shrimp dumplings), honey roasted pork, shrimp rolls (steamed variety), chinese broccoli, friend turnip cake, stuffed eggplant (fyi, I think the filling is a puree of shrimp and pork), and vegetable pan friend noodles.

                  The har gau was not tender enough - too much pork, not enough shrimp. Shiu mai wrapping was too soft and it broke apart after minimal chopstick abuse - same issue with the shrimp rolls. The noodles had way too much sauce, though it was very yummy, garlicky sauce. Turnip and eggplant were delicious.

                  Chinese broccoli was stimply steamed and doused with too much oyster sauce - I'll pass on this the next time around.

                  As for everything being made to order, I find it hard to believe that all these items were freshly cooked and steamed w/in 15 min.

                  1. re: FoolForFood

                    Wow. I'm sorry your experience was so bad. I've order the har gau & shiu mai many times before, and while I've never found them extraordinary, they've always been good - actually, your comment of not enough shrimp surprised me since I usually wonder if the pork actually made its way into the har gau. As for the Chinese broccoli, as I've said before, it's one of my usual dishes - as far as I know, though, this stuff is usually blanched then sauced.

                    I do wonder what went wrong with your visit.

                    1. re: FoolForFood

                      My shiu mai wrappings were pretty much intact. Which dim sum places do you go in NYC? I'll definitely give your recommendations a try. I've tried a lot of different places in NY and Boston which I cannot remember the names of, but most of them taste just about the same to me. They definitely have more varieties, like the snail dishes, which I really enjoy.

                      1. re: FoolForFood

                        I just want to clear things up. Har gau are the shrimp dumplings (usually comes in white rice flour wrapping, filling totally enclosed.) Shiu mai are the other dumplings that usually contain a mixture of pork and shrimp and the fillling is not enclosed.

                        As for veggie options, I always enjoy the ginger and scallion noodles. very simple, but I love the combo of ginger and scallions. Also, the fried dough wrapped in rice noodle.

                        1. re: bumble

                          Yes, bumble, you are right. I always confuse the two for some reason, even though I know "har" means "shrimp" in Cantonese.

                      2. re: baekster

                        A word on the "crispy fried triangle" - I hadn't had it until tonight; it's sweet red pork bits and vegetables inside a fried ball of glutinous rice (sticky texture like the sesame balls, but no sesame seeds), more of a ovoid shape than a triangle, slightly sweet. I liked it a lot. I don't think I've had it anywhere else. I think Lakeside generally does the fried dim sum (triangle, sesame balls, taro, etc) very well, so it's not oily and heavy.

                      3. Does Lakeside do dim sum for dinner as well? I was thinking of going tonight. I know they close at 8.

                        3 Replies
                          1. re: Buckethead

                            It's more expensive for dinner. I think they charge an additional $0.50 per dimsum dish.

                            1. re: Buckethead

                              Yes, we're usually there at dinner time. And it's still very inexpensive.