Bahn Mi – Vietnamese hogies

I love those travel moments that transport you someplace new, someplace exotic.  Sometimes, you luck out and find one of these places close to home. Philly’s Chinatown is one of those places.  Although Chinatown is in the middle of Center City and just a few blocks long, it really feels like  a different world – English is no longer the primary language, many of the foods are unrecognizable and there is not a cheese-steak in sight.  Exploring these few blocks has proved a never ending (but very enjoyable) journey.  Whenever we want to feel adventurous or transported to another place, Chinatown is our easy go-to.

A photogenic Swiss Roll -the tastiest $1 deal in Chinatown

Our favorite activity has been eating our way through Chinatown. In addition to the diverse cuisines of China (dim sum, hand-drawn noodles, duck, Cantonese, Szechuan, Hong Kong, Fujian), many other Asian cuisines are represented – Burmese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese – plus many trendy and traditional desserts (QQ waffles, Japanese crepes, taro buns, matcha mousse cake).

And, just when we start to put a dent in our list, restaurants close and new trends take over.  A few years ago it was soup dumplings, bubble tea, and hand-drawn noodles.  Last year was ramen and rolled ice-cream.  This year, it’s hot pots, Taiwanese fried food and nitrogen-frozen desserts. We have reviews of many of our favorite spots in the restaurant section.

Philly’s Chinatown covers only a few blocks, so it’s easy to wander until you find something appealing.  The main area is along Arch Street and Race Streets, between 9th and 13th.

Tobey says: Chinatown is one of my favorite places in Philly.  There’s always something new to try and it never disappoints!

Recommended restaurants:

Spice – C (Hand-drawn Noodles)

Ray’s Cafe and Tea House (Dumplings, Soup)

QT Vietnamese Sandwich (Bahn Mi)

Bubblefish (Sushi, Boba)

Tom’s Dim Sum (Soup Dumplings, Scallion Pancakes)

Dim Sum Garden (Soup Dumplings)

Tsaocaa & BBQ chicken (Fruit teas & Taiwanese Fried Chicken)

Xi-an Sizzling Wok (Northwestern China – silk road influences)

Nan Zhou (Hand-drawn Noodles)

T-swirl Japanese Crepe (Sweet & Savory Crepes)

Teassert Bar (Waffles and Rolled Ice Cream)

Mango Mango (Mango Desserts)

Mayflower Bakery (Swiss Roll, etc.)

KC Pastries (Swiss Roll, etc.)

A La Mousse (Fancy Desserts)

Yummy Yummy (Hong Kong Waffles)

Frozen (Rolled Ice Cream)

Shaxian Delicacies (our favorite boiled and steamed dumplings)

Little Sheep (Hot pot)

Mr Deer the Camp (Milk Foam/bubble Tea)

Yamitsuki (Ramen)

Tiger Milk (Milky bubble tea)