Dim Sum House by Jane G’s grand opening was yesterday. Ochatto Hot Pot & BBQ House, a sweet sibling of the original Ochatto Restaurant on 36 and Chestnut, debuted back in December. Not to forget the giant Korean coffee shop franchise, Caffe Bene, has also joined University City’s vibrant dining scene. It’s only been couples of weeks into 2017, yet we’ve already received many blessings for this bulking season. Well, I certainly don’t need more bulking, still have some leftovers from last year...
Home to University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and University of The Sciences in Philadelphia, the neighborhood is a cultural melting pot. A diverse demographic of students and faculty from all over the world comes along with needs for different dining experiences. As an alumni at Drexel University, who is still living here, I can tell you there weren’t much options to choose from roughly three or four years ago, particularly for Asian food.
Five years with many changes, while some closed that left us with nostalgia, others quickly filled in and have made this food scene as promising as ever. From big names to boutique restaurants, hopefully this food guide is useful when needed.
I like Dim Sum House. They did a superb job at their grand opening. The restaurant offers both Shanghai and Cantonese dimsum choices. If you crave for soup dumpling, this is the place to go. Ah, they also have a pool table. But if you want some roasted poultry and noodle soup, then head over to Sang Kee Noodle House. It was there when I first got here, still one of my favorites. I bet it’s the same for most Philadelphians.
For years, let me repeat, years, I wished for a hotpot place to open. And finally, thanks to Ochatto family, we now have a legit one. I haven’t tried but looking at the pictures, I am making an assumption that the concept is similar to Chinatown restaurants. However, I can’t wait to experience the difference. Ochatto Hot Pot, I’ve already set the bar high for ya.
If you live in Philly and have not known or heard off Han Dynasty, then you haven’t really lived here. I’m kidding! You just haven’t eaten enough dan dan noodles. The fun and uplifting restaurant chain serves up delicious Sichuan food with a full menu of creative drinks. Btw though, you don’t joke with Sichuan spice. And I’m very, very serious.
For a long time, Koreana was the only place that I went to get my Korean craving fix. Truthfully, it’s not the best. But it’s fast, affordable, and good enough. Now we do have more options for Korean when U-Town and Tampopo joined the crowd. Personally, I like U-Town the best because I love eating a-la-carte Korean food (white rice with Kalbi or Grilled Mackarel, etc.) then stir-fried squid noodles or bibimbap. However, since Koreana does delivery and U-Town doesn’t, it’s definitely something to take into consideration this winter.
Caffe Bene is Korea’s Starbucks, but with shaved ice (patbingsu). And waffles. And honey toast. Their drinks menu varies from classic drinks to Asian inspired such as multigrain latte or frappe. Also, their Cafe Saigon is pretty addictive. Though I am not a total fan, but the coffee shop is super cute and is an ideal place to just work.
Lemongrass has a great selection of Thai dishes. From mainstream dishes like pad Thai and drunken noodles to restaurant’s specialties such as curry duck, the flavors are well balanced and flavorful. And did you know when crabmeat and shrimp intertwine between crispy golden sheets, they are called Between The Sheets? Yea me neither, I totes love their humor!
Located pretty far away from the campuses of UPenn and Drexel sat Vientiane Cafe, an amazing Laotian restaurant. It’s also BYOB and cash only (classic Asian restaurants move). I haven’t tried (I was almost to but we didn’t have cash on us. So I’m trying to save you a trip here) but rumors have it! So I am extremely convinced they does have something to offer. Next to Vientiane Cafe is Vietnam Cafe. The restaurant is beautiful, from the outdoor to the interior decor. First-time visitors should try their spring rolls. They are mouthwatering.
Japanese (more like ramen)
Is ramen still a novelty? Either way, it’s great. I like Nom Nom Ramen but it seems like the Yelpers don’t. But hey, never hurt to give it a try. Their tonkotsu broth is the definition of a sticky-lipped intensity, unlike other places where it can get pretty slimy and watery. While we have quite a handful options for ramen here in Philly, unfortunately, all of my best bowls are in other cities.
Before this post, I always joked: “There’s nothing to eat here!”. But now I’m already on page 2. Honestly, my list can go on and on. I did not cover everything. Because that was not the intention. All restaurants mentioned above are my favorite go-tos when I want to stay local.
So my friends, cheers to another year of “I shouldn’t have eaten that”.