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May 29, 2014 01:49 PM

Dim Sum in Philly

I know we're somewhat Dim Sum-challenged in Philly these days but some friends and I are willing to take what we can get. Only one caveat: the group wants to do the 'pick from the cart' thing. What's our best bet in Chinatown these days? Or is there a better place on Washington Ave.

And we're thinking of arriving around 12:30. Is that too late to get the best of the pickings? Thanks, as always, for your help.

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  1. Not a 'pick from the cart' place, but Dim Sum Garden serves killer soup dumplings and are great in general:

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chinon00

      Been there at their old location and enjoyed. Any other ideas for carts?

      1. You might want to give Ocean Harbor a try. I've always enjoyed this place even tho it's been a long while since I've been. Crowded, noisy, almost 100% Asian customers, many with small children. The experience is better than the food which is not bad at all. Some folks don,t like it but obviously many do. If you go at 12:30 you'll have a wait.

        1. Why am I always late to these Dim Sum posts? Anyway, I recommend Ocean Harbor and Ocean City for Cantonese Dim Sum. They both serve from the push carts.

          12:30 is not too late to get your pickings. It may be late because you may be behind a long line.

          I find Joy Tsin Lau getting a bit worse these days. I don't even want to recommend Imperial Inn. Imperial Inn is not very good, but at least you won't have to wait in line (see the correlation?)

          Dim Sum Garden offers Shanghai Dim Sum, and they do not serve from push carts. I like their soup dumplings the best. The pot stickers/dumplings are fine as well. Other things are average.

          There is the newly open Szechuan Dim Sum Restaurant. The foods are good and authentic. I ran into a mom and a son couple in the restaurant, and we had a really good chat. They were from ChongQing (capital city of Szechuan) and they said most of their dishes are just like they were from ChongQing. Despite the name, this is really a normal restaurant which focus on smaller dishes, not exactly the kind of Dim Sum you are thinking.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Interesting. Would you happen to remember where it's located? Sounds great.

            1. re: Boognish

              <Would you happen to remember where it's located?>

              Sure. Which one are you thinking about? Are you talking about Szechuan Dim Sum Restaurant?

              It is on Arch Street, very close to the relatively newly (not that new) opened Xi'An Sizilling Wok.


              If you like tofu, then I would say their House Special Sichuan Style Soft Tofu is a good try (item C1 on this photo). It is quiet spicy and quiet nimbing (ma-la) for $6:


              If you don't cannot eat very spicy, then ask for the "sour and spicy" version of the same dish. It is not on the printed menu. This would be a slightly less spicy, but still spicy dish.

            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Actually, we did end up at Joy Tsin Lau. Some in party (including me!) realized they'd been to Ocean Harbor and not JTL so we crossed the street and waited about 10 minutes for a seat. Everyone seemed to enjoy though I was not as wow'd. While it's part of the cart experience, find it frustrating when dishes are cold. Those included both the calamari and the greens.

              Hoping that next time we go someplace where the food is more reliable and we can simply order off the menu. Or that by "next time" a great new cart place opens.

              Thanks all for your input.

                1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                  Sounds very similar to the long lost Lakeside which used to serve the best dim sum in Philadelphia, before the couple retired.

                2. re: Misha

                  Yeah, JTL has lost its touch in the past couple of years. Sometime the dishes are cold like you said. I know Ocean City has changed its management a few year back, and now it is a busy place. So, Ocean City (not Ocean Harbor) can be your next place to try.

                  Good luck.

                  Unfortunately, Philadelphia does not have high-end dim sum restaurants like those in California or Toronto...etc.

                  1. re: Misha

                    Frankly if you want to order off the menu Dim Sum Garden two doors down from JTL would be worthwhile to consider, but as CK has noted, it is not traditional HK dim sum but rather Shanghai centered. I have had chive and pork dumplings there, soup, and the juicy buns (both steamed and fried, in both pork and crab and pork variations) and can recommend them without question.

                    1. re: cwdonald

                      Definitely my next Dim Sum destination. Shanghai works for me and I love soup dumplings.

                3. Wokano? I know they have dim sum, not sure about "from the cart".

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: SP1

                    I have never been to this place. Maybe I should give it a try. (some reviews on yelp state that Wokano has carts).