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final trip to philadelphia - narrow down 4 dinner options?

i've been in and out of philadelphia for business over the past couple of years but it looks like my final trip out will be in a couple of weeks (july 20-24) and so i want to make the best of it and take advantage of all those experiences i let slip by. i will only have dinners from mon-thurs available and my best guess is that i wont' be able to make it out to most restaurants until 8pm. i will also mostly be using public transportation.

so my first question is, during that week are there any events i should should look into or avoid? we have something like restaurant week in my home city and it is just a disastrous affair.

this is where i've been ( think there's a review post somewhere but i can't find it):

ansill - great meal, one small miss but otherwise great atmosphere and food
good dog bar - the state of burgers in my home town is sad and this is a fantastic option, but have been many times now
white dog cafe - have had ups and downs but mostly palatable, have been more times than i can count
bar ferdinand - tasty but didn't wow me.
reading terminal market - fun and i'm going to get beans from old city coffee delivered to my hotel
naked chocolate - nice euro-style hot chocolate
standard tap - great!
beer store at 10th and Pine - nice selection!

this is where i'd really like to go over 4 nights:

morimoto - for omakase (best to go thurs night since they close at 11pm and draw out the experience?)
jim's steaks on south st and buying beer to take home at 10th and pine - favourite cheesesteak after a far flung search around the city
little fish - seafood state in my home city is pretty sad, this sounds delicious, is it worth it?
matyson - seems like a must do for philadelphia
le bec fin - a nice standard
tria - another good standard
distrito - seems like a must do as well
amada - not super keen but sounds tasty
capogiro - can do before or after a meal, which is the best combo with restaurant (ideally a place that doesn't do great desserts)

are there any worthwhile grocery stores open late to pick up generally awesome food products? (we don't have trader joes so i might just head there)

also, to finish off this terribly wordy post.... so you know my tastes, i eat anything and everything. snout to tail, whiz wit', mirugai sashimi, fried chicken and collard greens, etc etc. if you know of something awesome i am glad to hear of it. i am reluctant to eat chinese (mostly canton or northern), vietnamese, and ethiopian as i feel i have a good base of this at home.

thanks so much for any help! i know it's just another "tourist" post but i'd really love to make the best of this experience. if you're ever in toronto, drop me an email and i'd be happy to do the same.

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  1. If you've never done it, I would recommend the omakase at Morimoto. If you do the $120 version, this is an approximation of what you will receive. Supposedly, if you order the omakase more than once, you never receive the same meal twice. However, I have read many reviews and it looks like this is the "default" first time omakase. It is what I received the one time I had the omakase.

    Toro tartare topped with scallions and osetra caviar.

    Some type of oyster sampler. There were three quarter-sized oysters, each topped with something different (japanese salsa, thai fish sauce, and ceviche).

    Scallop carpaccio topped with ginger and warm oil (this was one of my favorite dishes).

    Sashimi salad (not sure what type of fish it was and my server said she would ask the kitchen, but never got back to me on that)

    A black vinegar "soda" intermezzo

    Lobster Epice

    Seared Wagyu Beef "sashimi" topped with cilantro oil and abalone.

    Then, after all of that a sushi sampler that included medium toro, snapper, and 4 others I can't remember, but all were very good.

    My dessert was a sweet potato cake accompanied by some type of cream and berry. My wife had the chocolate brownies that you dip in caramel and walnuts. The desserts were fine, but not memorable.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Philly Ray

      hrm... thanks for that info. it actually makes me not tempted to go omakase though it was what i was initially considering.

      i definitely want to go to morimoto, it's sort of been my white whale restaurant every time i visit philadelphia. but after flipping through his cookbook, most of the dishes you've listed seem... just ok. i noticed that it's mostly raw which i do enjoy. i'll have to have a conversation when i make a reservation.

      again, thanks!

      1. re: pinstripeprincess

        For $100 you can get the same Omikase as the $120. I did not detect a single different dish at the higher price. (And yes, it was the same exact courses both times). Not sure what the deal is with that since I thought it varied based on what was seasonal/available. So save yourself $20 (and who knows maybe the $80 is the same too). Also keep in mind that it is not much food. We had a fun time there and the food IS really good. Just not enough of it for me to go there all the time. You may want that roast pork sandwich for a dessert.

        1. re: jcmods

          how long did it take you to get through the omakase?

          1. re: pinstripeprincess

            I am thinking roughly an hour. There were something like 6 courses. It was a little while back. I remember everything including the dessert was exactly the same.

    2. Two quick questions: are you going solo and will you have a car?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Boognish

        no car (public transportation focused as i find the taxis way too expensive) and mostly solo otherwise maybe one or two other people at most for half the time.

      2. I'd definitely go to little fish. It's tucked away in a very Philly neighborhood, it's BYO, very Philly, and the food is amazing. Last time I was there I had Halibut over gnocci, favas, and chantarelles. Blew me away.

        I would also recommend the roast pork at Paesano's. But then, I'm recommending that to everyone these days. An easy walk from the Market Frankford line (Girard stop, walk a block and a half or so west). A roast pork from Johns or DiNics will do as well, but really, Paesano's is worth it. When I move away from Philly one day, that will be my last Philadelphia meal, hands down.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hollyd

          I have to agree with the Paesano's Roast Pork. Amazing sandwich.

        2. I say you definitely need to go to Matyson- I was just there, and it was a wonderful experience, plus their new tasting menu is all about lobster, which looks really good! =)

          1. Matyson is our benchmark restaurant. nuff said.