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Dec 28, 2011 09:25 AM

Good completely MSG-free Chinese restaurants?

After watching A Christmas Story five times (thanks TBS), I realized how much I miss Chinese food.

I have a strong MSG sensitivity and can't eat at places that use it at all (please spare the MSG debate, I get migraines from MSG, mushrooms, some aged cheeses, etc.). Can anyone recommend some good places in Chinatown that are MSG free? Thanks and happy new year!

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  1. I would suggest Joe Poon if your able to get there. I know he can cater to gluten-free dining (which is VERY rare w/Chinese food) and most likely can cater to msg-free food. I would at least contact him.

    8 Replies
    1. re: paychecktoday

      Isn't he doing catering only these days? Or as part of his Chinatown tours? I miss Joe's Peking Duck House, which I thought was superior to Sang Kee.

      I would check out several of the vegetarian chinese restaurants. Perhaps New Harmony is.

      1. re: cwdonald

        I was in Chinatown on Monday night and drove by his place on Cherry, and saw people coming and going. From what I know, you can get food without doing a tour/catering. I think you do need to contact him ahead of time to make resos and see if there are other diners coming in on your desired date.

        I have never had Joe's Peking Duck House, but I have only heard great things about it. Sang Kee is still decent from what I remember, and Shiao Lan Kung still has the best salt baked squid in Chinatown. David's Mai Lah Wah is still the best for late night dining in C-Town, but overall the food is not as good as it used to be (even though getting the best of C-Town award from PhillyMag for '11).

        ***Correction: He does only catering/banquets now as stated prior***

        1. re: paychecktoday

          He is doing the Chinese New Year banquet this year, it's going on from Jan through March. It's open to the public but you do need to reserve in advance. Website says groups of 6+ are recommended but it's available for smaller groups if you ask. Don't know if a gluten-free meal would be a possibility with the fixed-menu banquet.

          I went a couple years ago and it was a great time. Menu looks even better this year, I plan on going.

          1. re: barryg

            Could we get a CH group together for this? I would so like to go!

            Went to Joe Poon's a number of years ago with the Dangerous Dining Club and enjoyed it thoroughly, although not quite at much as the dinner at the Cultural Center which came with entertainment and round tables.

            1. re: barryg

              Not familiar with the Chinatown Restos, but Chun Hing on Monument I think,
              next door to Pathmark does served main dishes without MSG, I believe.

              But, one does need to avoid routine soups with sometimes come with it
              in the soup base used in most places. In any case, do call them
              and verify if my opinion is correct. Hubby gets bad reactions from it, and we eat
              there all the time without incident. However, it is not in Chinatown.

              1. re: barryg

                Not intending to rain on your parade, but I went to Poon's Chinese New Years dinner last year with a group of about 15 and it was only fair. The flavors didn't pop and some dishes were a bit too greasy. Still, we all had a great time and presentation and service was very good. IIRC, it was BYOB.

                1. re: george2

                  When I went a couple years ago, the food was good, not great or that memorable, but the overall experience was really fun. Poon is an entertaining guy.

                  1. re: barryg

                    Comparing Poon's which I did with DDC a few years back versus the banquets the chinese cultural center used to do there was no comparison. Poon's food was good, but not memorable, the Chinese Cultural Center, which sponsored chefs from a particular region to come had outstanding food.

                    Personally I would look to Han Dynasty as a place to get a good CNY meal.