Dinner in Chinatown
We seldom go anymore. We used to go to Penang, Vietnam and Charles Plaza. Further afield, we've been to Han Dynasty and Sammy Chon (but the one in Cherry Hill), Jane G's and Rangoon.
We'd like to go somewhere adventurous, but not a total dive. I looked at Craig Laban's recent Chinatown column, but nothing jumped out at me except for maybe Xi'an Sizzling Woks, but a thread here lead me to think this isn't the best choice.
Terakawa for ramen is definitely not a dive and is the best ramen I've had in Philly (which isn't saying much, and I haven't tried some notable ramen places like Hiro).
E Mei and Four Rivers are my other Chinatown favorites (other than Rangoon, which you've been to), the food is good at both but the service is much friendlier and helpful at Four Rivers. My last attempted visit to E Mei has put me off that place for a while. Dim Sum Garden is OK I guess but I've only been once and didn't see much reason to go back, their XLB are nothing special.
It depends what kind of Chinese food you want for dinner.
Like cwdonald said, if you want Szechuan food, then either E Mei or Four Rivers is very good. E Mei is a bit more powerful in term of both being spicy and being Ma (numbing). I like the Dan Dan noodle from E Mei better, but there are dishes which I like from Four Rivers. I prefer E Mei and Four Rivers one step above Han Dynasty. So if you like Han Dynasty style of food (Szechuan), then you should give one of these places a try.
If you want Shanghai Dim Sum, then Dim Sum garden is not bad. The most famous dish there is the Soup Dumplings or Juicy Buns (different names referring to the same thing). BYOB as well.
If you want Chinese style seafood, which many Southern Chinese do at night, then you should try Tai Lake Restaurant or Jade Harbor Restaurant for seafood. They are opened around 4 PM until 2-3 AM in the morning.
Xi'an Sizzling Woks has some good dishes and some average dishes. Regardless, I don't view them as dinner food though. That is not to say that you cannot eat them for dinner.
If you want more like Cantonese street food, then I recommend Ting Wong or M Kee. Street foods like wonton, congree, soup noodle, Chinese barbecue, roast duck,...etc.
Two other choices. If you like Japanese Ramen for dinner, then go to Terakawa Ramen. There is the Yakitori Boy, which is a good place for some Japanese sake, shochu, and Japanese snacks.
It's a bit of a dive, but the wings and dumplings at David's Mai Lai Wah are excellent (was this in LaBan's column?). And then you can mosey down the block for cocktails at Hop Sing Laundromat.
When is Hop Sing going to start serving guests Chinatown takeout? I hear that was in his original plan.
Do you like sichuan? If so E. Mei might be up your alley.
Dim Sum Garden in its new location is nice if you like shanghai juicy buns.
I have heard mixed things about Xi'an Sizzling Woks, and both chemical_kinetics, and mooklenuck have talked about going there. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9106...
Nan Zhou is good if you like big bowls of hand drawn noodles, especially soup in this weather.
< I haven't been to the new dim sum garden yet, but it is a nicer environment.>
Nicer environment for sure, although I think the waitline seem longer. :)
The menu has been expanded quiet a bit especially for main courses (as opposed to Dim Sum dishes). I feel the soup dumplings (its flagship) quality has remained same as before -- which is a good thing.