Your Chinatown eating options just blew up as the long awaited Chinatown Square Food Hall pseudo-officially opened over the weekend.
Billed as a 24-hour operation, the food court has been in the works for over a year from restaurateur Kenny Poon (BonChon, Tango, Kai). It takes the place of old misellaneous goods store Shanghai Bazaar. The conversation has been a long one — the initial promise to open last winter was perhaps overly ambitious — but the end product is bigger than the early plans, containing 14 eateries instead of the original eight.
Two of those dining options opened in late December — the first inner-Philly location for popular New York street food gyro chain The Halal Guys, and Thai rolled ice creamery I CE NY. The soft opening was on Saturday, just in time for Chinese New Year celebrations, and now a host of new, less-chainy options are in there.
Philly.com foodista Michael Klein was privy to most of the details of the 14-strong line-up for the food hall. The food hall’s eyes are trained on the Pacific and Asia: there’s Korean tacos with Coreano from Tim Liu and Hee Chang of Monarch, Cambodian barbecue in the form of Khmer Grill, and steamed bun plus craft beer spot The Bao Bar. The hall is fully licensed and various places are putting an emphasis on their alcohol selections, from the aforementioned craft beers to a cocktail program at Hi Kori.
Note that the “food hall” moniker doesn’t quite apply to every establishment within the Chinatown Square walls: there’s also a karaoke bar with private rooms sponsored by major alcohol companies, in case screeching Mariah Carey in a room full of rum or vodka branding is your jam. Along the same lines, there’s also the self-explanatory Johnnie Walker Lounge. One more restaurant or bar is still to be announced.
It’s not totally clear how the whole 24/7 element of the food hall plays out — The Halal Guys, for example, closes between 2 and 4 a.m. depending on the day, and it’s hard to see the exact business value of peddling bowls of poke at 5 a.m. on a weekday morning. It has been previously suggested that only some eateries would be open all night, and Eater has reached out to Poon to find out if that’s still the case.
STATUS — Chinatown Square Food Hall is open seven days a 1016-1018 Race Street, exact hours depend on where you want to eat.