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Jul 22, 2013 11:11 AM

What are your favorite non-Szechuan restaurants in Chinatown?

I know I'm in the minority here - I can't eat spicy food.
Some of our favorite places have changed - lost owners, etc. - and we would love to have recommendations of where to go in Chinatown
for non-Szechuan food.

For years, our favorite was Lee How Fook. (And of course, Lakeside Deli).
This weekend, we were at Lee How Fook with mixed reviews. All new menu, and a delicious Peking duck roll. However, the sweet-and-sour pork was full of bones and gristle. When I complained, the waitress said that next time I should ask for the white meat, no bones. We will go there and try it again, because our other dishes were fine.

We do go often to Yang Ming, which we like very much, but it's far.

Where else in Chinatown?

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  1. Have you tried Square on Square near 18th & Chestnut? Not authentically any Chinese cuisine, but dishes like sweet and sour pork are executed very well. Not much atmosphere but ok to eat in. Good for take out too.

    1. Rangoon for Burmese, Terakawa for Ramen. I'm not a fan of Sang Kee, Penang, Vietnam, or Vietnam Palace. I don't remember liking Banana Leaf much either but it's been years since I was there.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Buckethead

        Buckethead, curious about your experiences at Sang Kee? What was bad? I only go there for Peking Duck and it is acceptable.

        1. re: cwdonald

          I've only had one experience there and it resulted in some really unpleasant gastrointestinal distress, the food wasn't good enough to risk another visit.

          1. re: cwdonald

            Yes Sang Kee Peking Duck is acceptable, but always room temperature. l am not a fan of the place(s)either.
            Lee How Fook was always my go to for decades, but since Doris and husband retired,then his sous chef died, it is now cooked by a crew with no notion how to fry, all is bathed in oil and as said pork dishes like the afforementioned sweet and sour consists of nasty bits of who knows what, cheap yes but terrible.
            Their hot pots are still quite good but standards like the salt baked scallops or salt baked squid are so greasy it is sad.
            Hot and Sour suffered as well, decent by a memory from the finest ever had in their past.

            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              Sang Kee reminds me of the characters in the classic spaghetti Western, "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly", re-imagined for an Asian audience, with English subtitles:


              The GOOD,

              ~Peking Duck (4 stars):

              Either a whole ($30) or a half Long Island duck ($20), this is some of the better I've had outside of NYC, perfectly crispy on the outside, with a nice but not excessive layer of fat over juicy meat. Thankfully, not over-cooked like so many places serve just say they have it on the menu, it comes with the typical bowl of hoisin sauce, sliced scallions, and steamed pancakes. This is a do-it-yourself version, so hopefully you've had the dish prepared for you before so that you know how the assemble these delicious little ducky wanna-be burritos. Personally, I do prefer the drama that comes from having it prepared by the server table-side, especially if you have guests who are experiencing it for the first time. Unfortunately, the steamed pancakes were mediocre, inconsistently steamed so that they tended to crack when folded (please get a steamer with a lid!). Also included was a tasty dish of tender duck morsels, stir-fried with string beans, bell peppers and onions, with rice on the side.

              The BAD,

              Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings), or as the menu referred to them: "Steamed Shanghai Juicy Buns", 8 for $6 (2 stars):

              A Shanghainese invention, for anyone who has daydreamed about Din Tai Fong's famous version of these pre-modernist era examples of molecular gastronomy (try to guess how they get the soup inside--and no, they don't used a syringe!), Sang Kee's are an insult. A thick, tough wrapper, dried out on top despite steaming over a lettuce leaf (again no lid), containing almost no, lukewarm soup and a boring pork dumpling, with a side of bizarrely sweet soy sauce, chopped scallions, little vinegar and no ginger. Edible, but a travesty if you've ever had the real deal. Why is it so hard to get decent XLB in the US???

              [FYI, Mr. Sang Kee, this what XLB should be like:


              and The WEIRD

              ~Restrooms (1.5 star):

              Do you really want me to go into details? Whatever you do, don't let them seat you at the big table in the back near the bathrooms which people have to squeeze around to get in and where you can see through the doesn't-close-the-whole-way door to the Men's. Otherwise the restaurant is moderately attractive, in a Chinatown-sort of way, although I've never been to the second floor.

              Complementary small, tasty scoops of coconut and mango ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce for dessert.

              Cash only. Fairly busy at 4PM on a Saturday evening. The service is generally good, in the impersonal way so many Chinese restaurants have. Easy parking in the open-air lot across the street.

              Worth going to for the Peking Duck, and for some of the other dishes according to my friends.

              But take my advice and skip the XLB.

              And walk over to Hop Sing Laundromat afterwards for drinks and the bathroom.

        2. Dim Sum Garden for dumplings. Also, I'll have to disagree with Buckethead on Sang Kee, Banana Leaf, and Penang.

          Sang Kee's Peking duck is quite good, but passable to decent Peking duck can be had at other places. What I like most about Sang Kee are the Cantonese-style noodle soups, which I haven't seen anywhere else in Chinatown.

          Banana Leaf and Penang both have fairly authentic Malaysian food. I've only been to Penang once, but at least at Banana Leaf, their kopitiam items are generally better than their more generic Chinese or Thai-inspired entrees. Malaysian food can be spicy, but none of the versions I've had at Banana Leaf or Penang have had much heat.

          1. Not in Center City, but Chun Hing in the Pathmark shopping
            center , not far from the Target there has been under the same ownership for decades, and is both very consistent, and from my perspective very good.

            I cannot do spicy either. The fried or steamed dumplings
            are my gold standard; no one in Chinatown does them better.
            Also special to them is the pork and turnip soup; I love their
            lobster dishes. Good quality; stale d├ęcor, but most
            accommodating. Very reasonable for the quality.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Bashful3

              We will definitely try it. Not that far from center city, and easy parking.
              And I trust your judgment - we are both Fuji (Haddonfield) addicts!

            2. I definitely did not phrase this correctly. I should have asked about Cantonese restaurants.

              We do enjoy Vietnamese and other cuisines, but I don't have as much trouble finding places we like.

              I'll keep all your suggestions in mind - as usual.
              I'm getting a crave for dumplings!

              1 Reply
              1. re: sylviag

                How about Tai Lake for seafood or Ken's.