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Sep 3, 2012 10:25 PM

Good Chinese restaurants in Philly

Hi. I've returned to Philly after some years away and was wondering if I could get some recommendations as to where are now the best places to go in Chinatown. I used to love the duck at Sang Kee but heard it's not what it used to be 10 years ago. So any ideas/recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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  1. In Chinatown I like:
    Tai Lake on Tenth Street for fresh fish and seafood (they have tanks).
    Sang Kee on Ninth Street for duck.
    Joy Tsin Lau on Race Street for dim sum.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Unkle Al

      I agree with the great Unkle on Tai and Sang Kee.

      I must say relative to SF, Boston or NYC any dim sum in Philadelphia pales in comparison to the point that I do not recommend folks have it.

      For dumplings, I recommend Dim Sum Garden, especially the shanghai style juicy buns. You might also try Sakura Mandarin for juicy buns.

      For hand drawn noodles Nan Zhou or Yummy Lan Zhou

      Laban review "Tasty Place" in chinatown, which I have not been to, but sounds very good. Any place that recommends that you buy fish and bring it to them to cook, is ok in my book.

      And not in Chinatown but the Han Dynasty restaurants in Old City, Manayunk or University City for sichuan style food are worth considering as well.

    2. It's not in Chinatown, but Han Dynasty is new since you left and is my favorite Chinese in Philly, although they are expanding rapidly and the quality is a bit iffy at some locations as (I'm assuming) chefs are moved around. I tried the University City location recently and it was excellent. There's one in Old City too, that one varies quite a bit in quality from one visit to the next.

      1. Thank you very much for the replies-much appreciated. I'm keen to try Han Dynasty and it sounds as though Sang Kee is still the place for duck.

        1. David' Mai Lai Wah on 10th and Race serves some amazing salt and pepper squid, the rest of the menu is great too, it's the de facto restaurant for friends whenever we're in Ctown

          7 Replies
          1. re: AgentRed

            I heard decent thing about it. I have been there for once, but I wasn't impressed. Maybe I will give it another try.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              MLW is pretty good food, not the best in Chinatown, but above average. Their SBS is awesome, and their pan-fried dumplings are excellent (with the ginger sauce). To me, everything else is meh....nothing that really sticks out as better than any other place in Chinatown. They also serve good fried noodles w/duck sauce if that is a bonus or not. For Salt Baked Squid, go approximately 1/3 of a block down the street to Shao Lan Kung. Hands down the best SBS in the area.

                1. re: paychecktoday

                  so because i was in the chinatown area, i decided to go to shao lan king the other day to check out their SBS and their dumplings, and then afterwards, i went to david's MLW for the same thing (well, their salt and pepper squid, not SBS).

                  i have to say that while SLK's SBS is really good and probably the best SBS i've had in a while, it's a little different than david's salt and pepper squid, so i'm not sure it's a good comparison. i think david's squid is deep fried, so the resulting dish is crispy and crunchy like a potato chip, and i prefer my squid prepared in this way.

                  but, if i'm ever in the area and david's is uber busy, i have no problem going down to SLK to grab SBS if they are open.

                  also. while i prefer the ginger sauce served with the pan fried dumplings at david's, i actually prefer the dumplings from SLK. the skins were cooked to a perfect bubbly crust and the filling was more flavorful than david's. but both the dumplings and squid are worth seeking out at either place. i guess it just depends on what your preferences are.

                  1. re: purplesachi

                    I guess I could have compared SLK with other Chinese restaurants who prepared their dishes the same, like Sang Kee and Lee How Fook. I was basing the comparison to "salt squid" dishes.

                    I still feel that SLK is superior in comparison to other restaurants in regards to a "salt" based squid dish, but comparing the two was not right. I agree, there are different as David's is deep fried and SLK is baked.

                    In regards to David's, it is good but not consistent. What I mean about that is that there have been times I have gone there and the dish was uber crunchy with a whole bunch of tentacles, while other times, the dish was not as crunchy or had no tentacles whatsoever. Some days your plate will be overflowing, while other times not so much. SLK is the opposite, as it is always consistent and comes out the same every single time.

                    Again, I would go to either one depending on my mood. David's has the bonus of being open extra late every night (I've eaten there at 4:30am once!) but is constantly busy if you go after the bars let out. SLK also has late hours (I believe they close their doors around 2am?), and usually pulls in the ones who can't get a seat at David's.

                    My friend and I did a Chinatown tour for a good 3 months straight where we would go to a different restaurant every Monday afternoon and try only their salt baked/fried squid and their young chow (house special) fried rice. This happened maybe 4-5 years ago, and my top favorites have been Sang Kee and SLK, since they baked their squid. My friend prefers the fried versions (David's and Wing Wong -- across from David's). In regards to fried rice, I think we went with Tai Lake and Wing Wong, with Sang Kee right behind.

            2. Ocean Harbor on Race walks pretty tall for dim sum.

              Sang Kee is still decent, but not godly like it was >10 years ago. I would bet there are better duck houses in the city.