October 12, 1990 |
There is nothing in Chinatown quite like Ray's Cafe. The specialty is coffee - more than 25 different varieties, from such far- flung spots as Jamaica, Hawaii, Yemen, Sumatra, Tanzania, Brazil and Colombia. The rarest, Jamaica Blue Mountain, is $5 a cup; a big cup of medium- bodied Colombian Armenian Supremo or smooth Brazil Bourbon Santos is $2.75. The coffee, made with spring water, comes with a little cookie filled with intensely plummy jam, like a Chinese Fig Newton. Ray's doesn't look like an ordinary java joint, either.
February 21, 1986 |
East very nicely meets West at 18th and Chestnut Streets, the location of Mandarin Garden. This Chinese restaurant looks half like oldtime Chinatown and half like a 1950s Center City luncheonette. Enter, and discover that looks can be deceiving. The food is strictly up- to-date. Prices, however, tend to linger in the not-too-distant past. But who among us will argue about a place where you can dine well, and quite reasonably? The Mandarin Garden is open seven days a week, and spends that time preparing food in the basic styles of Mandarin, Hunan and Szechuan.
February 9, 1988 |
Around the corner from the bustling Italian Market, a half-dozen Vietnamese restaurants are quietly serving meals considered exotic by their mostly white, middle-aged clientele. One of these restaurants is Vinh Hoa, on the corner of 7th and Christian streets. There, Hue Tran and his wife, Anh Ly, prepare nearly a hundred meals they learned from friends, from cookbooks and from other restaurants. The Vietnam refugees certainly didn't know anything about cooking when they bought the restaurant eight years ago. Back then, says Tran, 49, who acts as host, "We didn't know what a wok was. " "When I went to buy meat, I didn't know what was good or what was bad," adds Ly, 48, the cook.
August 2, 1996 |
CinCin (pronounced "sin-sin") means "brilliant spring" in Mandarin, and if ever a restaurant's name fit the food, this is it. The approach of owner/executive chef Michael Wei and chef James Huang is to marry Chinese ingredients with French-inspired sauces. Nothing new about that, of course, and the menu gave us a strong case of deja vu for the wonderful Alouette restaurant of the early 1980s. It may remind others of Bryn Mawr's Yangming and Willow Grove's Mandarin Garden, two other Wei restaurants.
January 13, 1995 |
Agroup of elderly women truly were in Noodle Heaven the other evening. Literally and figuratively. The four were dining at the Center City Chinese restaurant near the Academy of Music, and they were ecstatic over the various noodle dishes that each was persuading the other to taste. They apparently were headed for a show, because when one pointed to her watch, the other three returned immediately to earth, forgot about their sharing and began dining in earnest. In the background, there was soft and mellow Asian music.
July 31, 1992 |
The Empress Garden is Chinatown's version of the South Philadelphia Italian restaurant that the locals went to for straightforward but worthy food when Mom wanted a night out of the kitchen. This small - six booths and a couple of tables - place manages to do the little things in a big way: Crisp vegetables, food that's served hot, and ingredients that are consistently fresh. While the restaurant is tiny and has only one window, it still manages to convey a feeling of being bright and airy.
July 18, 2010 |
When a restaurant closes for eight months, two things are generally true. The first is that it's toast, a goner, fini . The second is that it reopens, but, oops, too late: Its crowd has moved on; there are plenty of other fish in the sea. This is what makes Hunan, the Main Line fixture since 1973, particularly triumphant. Not only has it opened again after its eight-month hiatus (caused by a Peking duck that overheated the oven, drawing the attention of fire officials to the need for a host of fire-code updates)
February 1, 1991 |
Shing Kee, a new restaurant on the southern fringe of Chinatown, might not win any awards for its decor or surroundings, but what it lacks in atmosphere, it more than makes up for in its food. The restaurant is housed in a modest and unadorned rectangular room. Outside, huge mounds of construction earth line the curbside. Comfortable booths occupy one side, while family-style circular tables are arranged along a mirrored wall on the other. What brightens up this otherwise drab dining room are the colorful plates of well-prepared food.
January 24, 2013
Here is an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat from Jan. 22: Craig LaBan: Good afternoon, my hungry friends. I've been traveling, playing roadie for my wife Elizabeth's book tour - and, most important, ensuring a plate of fried okra and barbecue to keep our energy up. More on that later; first, today's Crumb Tracker Quiz. Guess, in order, the three places where I ate these dishes: (1) roast duck stir-fried udon noodles; (2) good fresh gnocchi (hint: Center City); (3)
November 22, 1987 |
A restaurant for diners with varying tastes in Chinese food seems a fair way of describing the Silver Palace in the new Quality Inn on Race Street in Philadelphia's Chinatown. For example, if you're a devotee of the Cantonese style, you'll find items on the menu that suit your taste buds. The more adventurous diner has the opportunity to take a quantum leap into the wonderful world of dim sum. For the rest of us, the Silver Palace incorporates some Szechuan and Hunan dishes, and also has a page of dishes written in Chinese.