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Oct 3, 2010 09:23 AM

Chinese recs?

My gf and I are coming to philly to visit her family for Thanksgiving. We'd like to take them out to dinner to get chinese food, but i've never really eaten chinese food in phillly. As far what I'm looking for, I'm up for any type of chinese food, but no americanized-chinese. Language is not a problem as I can speak mandarin and read a bit. I will eat anything and I'm very familiar with chinese food if you've ever checked the manhattan board. Dish recs would be helpful as well (as in what they make particularly well).

Thanks for you help!

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  1. You might check put Han Dynasty for Szechaun or Beijing Homestyle in Manayunk. Han is a really good show, and incredible (and fiery) food. I had lunch at Homestyle recently, but was kind of shocked at the amount of fat in the double cooked pork. I ordered pork belly, and it was as fatty as expected, but still acceptable by Western standards. My wife's pork was probably very authentic, but was essentially pure slabs of fat. If your girlfriend's family are not native Chinese, they may also be shocked at an "authentic" preparation of something they thought they recognized as standard Americanized Chinese food.

    14 Replies
    1. re: phillyjazz

      well my gf is korean and very familiar with chinese food, my gf's family is reasonably familiar with chinese food as i've taken them out to chinese food in ny many times. i dont think they ever really get americanized chinese food, although they do get korean style chinese food

      what kind of chinese food does beijing homestyle serve? is it actually beijing food? that would be very surprising to find

      1. re: phillyjazz

        Is this place 10-20 miles outside of Philly? Are they related to this Han Dynasty who also seem to have opened up this spot:


        1. re: scoopG

          this looks pretty good if this is it

          1. re: scoopG

            Yes, it's the same Han Dynasty that was in Exton. The owner now helms the Old City location.

            1. re: ramenbound

              I'm pretty sure the Exton location still exists, the Old City one is just the newest location. And the best, according to people who have been to both. I agree that Han Dynasty is your best bet.

              1. re: Buckethead

                really just debating whether we should get sichuan or cantonese

                1. re: Lau

                  Yes, you're right Buckethead... poor wording on my part. And finally, I third the recommendation for Han Dynasty. Honestly, Philly really does not have any particularly sharp or interesting Cantonese food; this would only be amplified by the fact that you'd be comparing to NYC

                  1. re: Lau

                    I'd go for the "best" Chinese, myself. Also it depends on where you are staying in the area. (Sort of like my SGV argument: how far are you willing to drive?) I also wonder if the best Chinese food lies in the Philly suburbs/exurbs, like in D.C. I visit Wilmington, DE quite a bit and have gone to the Philly Chinatown several times. Small but vibrant and perhaps stuck in the past to some degree. There is one Hand-Pulled Noodle place run by the Fujianese - not the 4-5 to be found in Manhattan.

                    1. re: scoopG

                      well normally i would go for "best", but i'm not sure if some people can handle sichuan spicy and i sort of hate to tone it down....so im debating what to do

                      1. re: Lau

                        There's actually a heat level listed on the menu for most of the dishes, rating each one from 1-10 for spice level, so people can decide what level they're comfortable with.

                        1. re: Buckethead

                          right, but i'm going to order and if i'm going to get sichuan i prefer to do it properly and order the correct spice level, i find sichuan food to be much less appealing when you take the spice down as it kills the flavors that should be there

                          1. re: Lau

                            Right on. No self respecting Sichuan restaurant offers a 1-10 "spicy" level for customers.

                            1. re: scoopG

                              If you know of a better Szechuan restaurant in the city, I'm all ears. The 1-10 spice level is not something you choose (though they'll adjust the heat a bit if you want), each dish has a rating already.

                              1. re: Buckethead

                                i meant that i didn't want to adjust the heat down for people, i'd rather go get another type of chinese food where everyone can enjoy it without me having to alter what it tastes like....although i'm figuring out right now whether her family can eat real spicy or not, its turned into a big event where a whole bunch of her family is coming now

          2. I recommend Han Dynasty as long as everyone likes spicy food and szechuan peppercorn. My favorites there are spicy cold green bean noodles, dumplings in hot chili oil, xia xiang noodles, baby bok choi with dried shitake mushrooms, spicy deep fried beef, fish hot pot.
            I also recommend Tai Lake in chinatown for a big restaurant with lots of fresh seafood options; we are partial to the live shrimp served steamed in the shell with dipping sauce, salt baked squid, fried rice with crab and dried scallop. They also make whole fish, lobster, dungeness crabs, frog legs from their tank. Sometimes they have Pacific oysters the size of salad plates that they steam and serve with some black bean sauce, they also sometimes have live scallops in the shell. They have a full menu with meat and poultry, they make very good chinese greens of all types, and good hot pots. They excel at the Cantonese seafood dishes.
            Ken's seafood is another great Cantonese seafood restaurant, smaller than Tai Lake. If they have it, they will make you a whole live giant clam, the foot sliced thin and served on a pile of ice, sashimi style with pickled ginger and they will fry the clam belly with eggplant.
            For authentic Shanghainese food, Dim Sum Garden is not to be missed. It is not necessarily a great place to take the inlaws; it is a hole in the wall. The shanghai soup dumplings are amazing. The shanghai sui mai are really good; thin skinned, filled with sticky rice. They make great baby bok choi and hand pulled noodles with or without soup and many choices of meats.

            2 Replies
            1. re: thehungrything

              i second, third and fourth the han dynasty rec. the dish recs above are great. i'd add the curry lamb.

              i also really like dim sum garden, but agree that it is very weak on ambience. you might try the nearby sakura mandarin for a nicer setting and equally good xiao long bao.

              1. re: coookie

                Szechuan Tasty House at 902 Arch St is very good for luch or dinner.

            2. This link to Philadining's blog has a pretty good rundown of the Philly Chinatown offerings. I'm a fan of Ken's Seafood for Cantonese. Han Dynasty definitely has the most buzz these days, though.


              5 Replies
              1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                Thanks Hungryin theBurbs for this link. Went once to a dim sum joint in Chinatown here - based on board recs here. Not bad but not great. Will have to find the name of the place. Lau might have done better to title this thread: Veteran NYC/China/Taiwan/HKG Hound seeks the best that Philly has to offer in Chinese!

                1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                  Thanks for the blog, I didn't know about Red Kings. Lunch was very good (and cheap) today.

                  1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                    That is a great blog with wonderful photos.

                    1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                      Just ate at Red Kings, Based on a five point system, 5 being the best
                      Hot and sour soup 3
                      Shanghai dumplings 3
                      Fried rice 2
                      hot pot of braised beef 4
                      water beef 4
                      Dong po pork 4
                      garlic spare ribs 3
                      Service 4 but they rush even though the place was empty
                      total bill with tip/tax $ 76

                    2. Where did you end up going? How was it? Somehow I missed this thread the first time around. I always read your review on the Manhattan boards, so Im interested in hearing your impressions of Philly.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: vnair2

                        +1. We'll have to wait til Thanksgiving though ;)

                        1. re: vnair2

                          haven't gone yet, going at thanksigiving...im likely going to han dynasty as we figured out everyone can eat spicy

                          1. re: Lau

                            good plan lau- and not everything is super spicy. the three cup chicken is pretty mild and a few orders of sesame noodles are amazing to cut the heat. the twice cooked fish is my favorite and definitely not so hot that people cant handle it.

                            1. re: InSearchOfTacos

                              well it's not that i personally mind if everything is spicy, but i wanted to make sure everyone else wasn't going to have problems. It looks good so ill def report back

                              1. re: InSearchOfTacos

                                Three Cup Chicken - a never spicy Taiwanese dish - at a Sichuan place?

                            2. re: vnair2

                              crap han dynasty is not open on thanksgiving, looks like im going to tai lake or ken's i called and both of them are open.

                              Which one do u guys think is better?

                              going to hit han dynasty the next day for lunch or dinner

                              1. re: Lau

                                btw any specific dish recs?

                                1. re: Lau

                                  Spicy crispy cucumbers
                                  Cold sesame noodles
                                  Dan Dan noodles
                                  Cumin-crusted style lamb
                                  Mapo tofu

                                  1. re: Buckethead

                                    oh i meant for tai lake / ken's, but that is helpful for han dynasty (typical sichuan dishes)

                                  2. re: Lau

                                    I love both Tai Lake and Ken's. Tai Lake is a bigger, busier place with a bigger menu. They both have very good service. If Ken is around he is fun to talk to and if he has some special seafood in it is usually worth getting, like the giant clams or fresh scallops depending on the season and what he has. Everything is good.
                                    Tai Lake is great also. Both places sometimes have pacific oysters the size of dinner plates served with black bean sauce. Thai lake usually has live shrimp which are incredibly delicious and expensive. They make excellent salt baked squid, good hot pots. I am addicted to their dry scallop and crab fried rice, especially good with an order of either broccoli rabe or pea greens. Very good soup.

                                    1. re: thehungrything

                                      gf -who grew up in Hong Kong - really likes Tai Lake.
                                      I find the live seafood there sad... I like having live seafood in tanks, but there, it's just too crowded (the seafood, not necessarily the diners).

                              2. The original comment has been removed