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New York’s century-old dim sum spot Nom Wah has a location in Philly’s Chinatown
Nom Wah [official photo]

Eat Your Way Through Philly’s Chinatown

Go beyond General Tso’s and lo mein

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New York’s century-old dim sum spot Nom Wah has a location in Philly’s Chinatown
| Photo by Nom Wah [official photo]

When it comes to sheer density of eating options, few Philly neighborhoods compare to Chinatown. Its main thoroughfares and narrow alleys are lined with neon-lit noodle shops, duck specialists, and bustling dim sum parlors, each with its own dedicated clientele. Finding a regular destination for General Tso’s chicken and pork fried rice is well and good, but there’s so much more to explore in Chinatown.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Vietnam Restaurant

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221 N 11th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 592-1163
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Vietnam usually has a quiet vibe in the dining room — that’s because everyone is too busy devouring spring rolls, lemongrass vermicelli, and crispy duck to talk. The list of strong tiki drinks on the cocktail menu may seem like an odd touch, but somehow a fruity mai tai is just the thing to round out the meal. Sister spot Vietnam Cafe across town in University City is also a solid option for Vietnamese fare.

Vietnam / Facebook

2. Lee How Fook

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219 N 11th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 925-7266

This no-frills spot is a long-running favorite for Cantonese dishes. Warm up with wonton soup and then move on to chicken hot pot, seafood fried rice, and beef with black bean sauce.

Lydia B. / Yelp

3. Nom Wah Philadelphia

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218 N 13th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(267) 519-2889
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This New York import might not have rolling-cart service, but its handmade dumplings are always perfectly pleated and steamed until just tender. Buns, shui mai, and shrimp roll can be matched with an extensive selection of teas or a Tsingtao from the bar.

Nom Wah / Facebook

4. David's Mai Lai Wah

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1001 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 627-2610
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The service is perfunctory and the decor is dated, but none of that matters when the salt and pepper wings and fried dumplings hit the table. With night owl–friendly hours, strong drinks, and solid takes on Chinese-American staples, David’s has a tendency to fill up quick after midnight.

Stephanie K. / Yelp

5. Terakawa Ramen

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204 N 9th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(267) 687-1355
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Bowls of miso and shoyu ramen are the draw at this tiny Japanese counter but the rest of the menu is full of expertly executed izakaya fare. Grab a six pack and load up on plates like Japanese sausages with spicy mayo, chicken karaage, and takoyaki before attempting to conquer the supersized Kyushu Danju, which is “Whopper style” ramen. Recommendable ramen can also be found at Yamitsuki (1028 Arch Street).

Terakawa / Facebook

6. Dae Bak

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2, 1016 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(267) 457-5876
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Head upstairs in the Chinatown Square food hall to sit-down spot Dae Bak, a casual Korean restaurant offering dumplings, stews, bibimbap, and platters of bulgogi, with big windows overlooking Race Street. Downstairs, find counter-service eateries selling a wide range of food, including Cambodian barbecue, rolled ice cream, and poke.

Dae Bak / Facebook

7. Dim Sum Garden

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1020 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 873-0258
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Shanghai soup dumplings are the star attraction at Dim Sum Garden, and reason enough to plan a visit.

Dim Sum Garden / Facebook

8. Red Kings 2

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1006 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 238-1392
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Dan dan noodles, beef and tripe in chili sauce, and cumin lamb are all on offer at this Sichuan destination but dig a little deeper and you’ll find fiery crawfish, griddle-cooked frog, and the unusually named “cosmetology trotters” (pigs’ feet). This places gets bonus points for its karaoke deal: Three hours of free karaoke if you spend $100 on your weeknight meal.     

Adhish R./ Yelp

9. M Kee

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1002 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 238-8883
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With lacquered ducks hanging in the window and a comprehensive menu, it might not be immediately apparent that M Kee is a breakfast specialist. Choose from slippery chiang fun noodles with shrimp, airy crullers, or any one of the soothing porridges off the congee menu.

M Kee / Facebook

10. Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House

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1022 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 923-1550
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Noodle are the name of the game at this inexpensive, soup-centric spot. Choose from thin hand-drawn or thick shaved noodles, and then choose from two dozen soup options. Other good bets: the roast pork stir fry and the comforting plates of tomato and egg on noodles. Spice C (131 N. 10th Street) is another solid option for hand-drawn noodles.

Nan Zhou / Yelp

11. Tai Lake Restaurant

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134 N 10th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 922-0698
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Banquet-sized tables, a full bar, and late last call hours make this seafood specialist an industry favorite for post-shift meals. Bubbling aquariums here aren’t just part of the decor: They’re home to crabs, fish, and eel ready to be tossed in XO sauce or sautéed with yellow chives.

Andrea H. / Yelp

12. Penang

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117 N 10th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 413-2531
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With several menu items boasting a “please ask your server’s advice before you order” warning, it’s clear this Malaysian eatery isn’t overly Americanizing its dishes. Start with the roti canai and maybe the rojak — a fruit salad with a pungent dressing — before filling the table with stir-fried noodles, nasi lemak, and mango chicken or tofu. A similar menu, minus alcohol, can be found around the corner at BYOB Banana Leaf (1009 Arch Street).

Penang / Facebook

13. Rangoon

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112 N 9th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 829-8939
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Chinatown’s one and only Burmese restaurant has been going strong for 25 years. Incorporating elements of Thai, Indian, and Chinese cuisines makes for fascinating plates, like a tea leaf salad with dried shrimp and a crepe-like “thousand layer” bread served with a side of curry for dipping.

Rangoon [official photo]

14. Tom's Dim Sum

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59 N 11th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 923-8880
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The menu is vast at Tom’s Dim Sum, so you’ll want to go in with a game plan. Here’s a good start: Order the soup dumplings, the shumai, and a scallion pancake, eat, and repeat.

Emily Teel

15. Xi'an Sizzling Woks

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902 Arch St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 925-1688
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Bringing the vibrant flavors of northern China to Philadelphia since 2013, Xi’an’s lengthy menu includes everything from kung pao shrimp to Sichuan go-tos. But the real draw are dishes from Shaanxi Province, like cold liang pi noodles dressed with sesame and chili oil, and sliders stuffed with cumin lamb and braised pork.

Vinayak B. / Yelp

1. Vietnam Restaurant

221 N 11th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Vietnam / Facebook

Vietnam usually has a quiet vibe in the dining room — that’s because everyone is too busy devouring spring rolls, lemongrass vermicelli, and crispy duck to talk. The list of strong tiki drinks on the cocktail menu may seem like an odd touch, but somehow a fruity mai tai is just the thing to round out the meal. Sister spot Vietnam Cafe across town in University City is also a solid option for Vietnamese fare.

221 N 11th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

2. Lee How Fook

219 N 11th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Lydia B. / Yelp

This no-frills spot is a long-running favorite for Cantonese dishes. Warm up with wonton soup and then move on to chicken hot pot, seafood fried rice, and beef with black bean sauce.

219 N 11th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

3. Nom Wah Philadelphia

218 N 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Nom Wah / Facebook

This New York import might not have rolling-cart service, but its handmade dumplings are always perfectly pleated and steamed until just tender. Buns, shui mai, and shrimp roll can be matched with an extensive selection of teas or a Tsingtao from the bar.

218 N 13th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

4. David's Mai Lai Wah

1001 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Stephanie K. / Yelp

The service is perfunctory and the decor is dated, but none of that matters when the salt and pepper wings and fried dumplings hit the table. With night owl–friendly hours, strong drinks, and solid takes on Chinese-American staples, David’s has a tendency to fill up quick after midnight.

1001 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

5. Terakawa Ramen

204 N 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Terakawa / Facebook

Bowls of miso and shoyu ramen are the draw at this tiny Japanese counter but the rest of the menu is full of expertly executed izakaya fare. Grab a six pack and load up on plates like Japanese sausages with spicy mayo, chicken karaage, and takoyaki before attempting to conquer the supersized Kyushu Danju, which is “Whopper style” ramen. Recommendable ramen can also be found at Yamitsuki (1028 Arch Street).

204 N 9th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

6. Dae Bak

2, 1016 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Dae Bak / Facebook

Head upstairs in the Chinatown Square food hall to sit-down spot Dae Bak, a casual Korean restaurant offering dumplings, stews, bibimbap, and platters of bulgogi, with big windows overlooking Race Street. Downstairs, find counter-service eateries selling a wide range of food, including Cambodian barbecue, rolled ice cream, and poke.

2, 1016 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

7. Dim Sum Garden

1020 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Dim Sum Garden / Facebook

Shanghai soup dumplings are the star attraction at Dim Sum Garden, and reason enough to plan a visit.

1020 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

8. Red Kings 2

1006 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Adhish R./ Yelp

Dan dan noodles, beef and tripe in chili sauce, and cumin lamb are all on offer at this Sichuan destination but dig a little deeper and you’ll find fiery crawfish, griddle-cooked frog, and the unusually named “cosmetology trotters” (pigs’ feet). This places gets bonus points for its karaoke deal: Three hours of free karaoke if you spend $100 on your weeknight meal.     

1006 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

9. M Kee

1002 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
M Kee / Facebook

With lacquered ducks hanging in the window and a comprehensive menu, it might not be immediately apparent that M Kee is a breakfast specialist. Choose from slippery chiang fun noodles with shrimp, airy crullers, or any one of the soothing porridges off the congee menu.

1002 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

10. Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House

1022 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Nan Zhou / Yelp

Noodle are the name of the game at this inexpensive, soup-centric spot. Choose from thin hand-drawn or thick shaved noodles, and then choose from two dozen soup options. Other good bets: the roast pork stir fry and the comforting plates of tomato and egg on noodles. Spice C (131 N. 10th Street) is another solid option for hand-drawn noodles.

1022 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

11. Tai Lake Restaurant

134 N 10th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Andrea H. / Yelp

Banquet-sized tables, a full bar, and late last call hours make this seafood specialist an industry favorite for post-shift meals. Bubbling aquariums here aren’t just part of the decor: They’re home to crabs, fish, and eel ready to be tossed in XO sauce or sautéed with yellow chives.

134 N 10th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

12. Penang

117 N 10th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Penang / Facebook

With several menu items boasting a “please ask your server’s advice before you order” warning, it’s clear this Malaysian eatery isn’t overly Americanizing its dishes. Start with the roti canai and maybe the rojak — a fruit salad with a pungent dressing — before filling the table with stir-fried noodles, nasi lemak, and mango chicken or tofu. A similar menu, minus alcohol, can be found around the corner at BYOB Banana Leaf (1009 Arch Street).

117 N 10th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

13. Rangoon

112 N 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Rangoon [official photo]

Chinatown’s one and only Burmese restaurant has been going strong for 25 years. Incorporating elements of Thai, Indian, and Chinese cuisines makes for fascinating plates, like a tea leaf salad with dried shrimp and a crepe-like “thousand layer” bread served with a side of curry for dipping.

112 N 9th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

14. Tom's Dim Sum

59 N 11th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Emily Teel

The menu is vast at Tom’s Dim Sum, so you’ll want to go in with a game plan. Here’s a good start: Order the soup dumplings, the shumai, and a scallion pancake, eat, and repeat.

59 N 11th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

15. Xi'an Sizzling Woks

902 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Vinayak B. / Yelp

Bringing the vibrant flavors of northern China to Philadelphia since 2013, Xi’an’s lengthy menu includes everything from kung pao shrimp to Sichuan go-tos. But the real draw are dishes from Shaanxi Province, like cold liang pi noodles dressed with sesame and chili oil, and sliders stuffed with cumin lamb and braised pork.

902 Arch St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

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