Happy Chinese New Year, Philly!

Beautiful firework pastry from A La Mousse, in celebration of the Chinese New Year!

Every holiday should be celebrated with food!

So, we set out to Chinatown to celebrate – starting with a giant Taiwanese fried (Ninja) chicken and squid from Cheers Cuts:IMG_20180220_120934543

And finishing up with the most amazing Asian-inspired desserts from A La Mousse:

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Happy Year of the Dog!

 

 

And who are these little guys? And, why are they riding chickens?

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https://www.facebook.com/alamoussecafe/

https://www.yelp.com/biz/cheers-cut-philadelphia

A Masonic Temple & Mongolian Hot Pot

In the shadow of City Hall stands one of the most elaborately carved and decorated Masonic Temples in the world.  Built in 1837, the interior is a dramatic example of Victorian design.  The hour-long tour shows off 7 of the over-the-top rooms.  In homage to the Mason’s history as stone masons, each room is decorated in a different, historically accurate style (from Egyptian to Gothic to Renaissance) – supplemented with a variety of Masonic symbols:

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Conspiracy theories aside, many of the founding fathers and at least 14 presidents have been Masons, and the museum has some interesting artifacts – including a Masonic apron owned by George Washington and (supposedly) presented to him by the Marquis de Lafayette, Benjamin Franklin’s Masonic sash and a piece of George Washington’s original coffin:

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Since Philly’s Chinatown is just a few blocks walk from the temple, we decided to try one of the latest restaurant trends – Mongolian Hot Pot – from Little Sheep.  We ordered the $12.95 lunch special, which came with a choice of broth (we chose the traditional and the spicy) and a variety of meats and veggies to cook in the broth:

https://pamasonictemple.org/

https://www.littlesheephotpot.com/location/philadelphia-pa

Eating our Way Through Chinatown, Pt. 3 (Duck)

IMG_20171019_135006710~2Challenging ourselves with new foods is part of the deal.  We’ve seen the ducks hanging in windows throughout Chinatown and this was our week to try.  Along with a bowl of beef chow fun and BBQ pork/soy sauce chicken over noodles, we ordered a side of duck – which arrived chopped on a plate – skin, meat, bones and all. Although everything was tasty, we decided that Hong Kong-style/Cantonese was too bland and sweet for our taste – and, now we can cross duck off the list.

Ting Wong (138 N. 10t Street)

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Philly’s Fantastic Chinatown

img_0340-e1504916762754.jpgFor the past 2 years, Tobey and I have been on a quest to explore the cuisines of  Chinatown.  Although Philadelphia’s Chinatown is just a few blocks long, this has proved never ending (but very enjoyable).  In addition to the diverse cuisines and foods of China (dim sum, hand-drawn noodles, duck, Cantonese, Szechuan, Hong Kong, Fujian), many other Asian cuisines are represented – Burmese, Vietnamese (including banh-mi), Korean, Japanese – plus many trendy and traditional desserts (QQ waffles, Japanese crepes, taro buns, green tea mousse cake).  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.

 

 

 

 

Chinatown Continued… (Noodles + Cake), Street Art & Homeschooling

Our explorations of Chinatown seem to be never ending – so many different regional cuisines, many of which are represented in Philly.  Plus, new restaurants open faster than we can try them.  We were both fighting colds this week, so what better cure than spicy noodle soup?  Spice C is one of the best places in Philly for hand-drawn noodles – plus, the noodles are made fresh for each order and you can watch the chef toss the noodles while you wait.  Spicy Sichuan soup with wontons, roast pork & shaved noodles and spicy soy sauce, hand-drawn noodles were the perfect medicine:

 

In the land of $8 ice cream, we decided to try a more economical dessert.  Two Chinatown bakeries fit the bill:  The Mayflower Bakery (1008 Race St.) – $4 for a whole Swiss Roll (you can buy them by the slice for $1, but we were feeling greedy):

 

and KC’s Pastries (109 N. 10th St.) – $1.00 for a  bun (we loved the butter cream – the taro bun was…. interesting).

 

During the walk to Chinatown, we came across this new street art by a storm drain on Race Street (you never know what you are going to see in the City – love the octopus and crabbie):

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Since we homeschool, Tobey occasionally needs to finish up some schoolwork before we start our Philly adventures.  We often go to the Free Library, but the weather was so beautiful, we sat in the gardens of the Barnes Foundation (better than a classroom any day!).

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Dippin’ Dots, Dot-To-Dots And Popping Boba

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Back in Philly after a late summer break.  We started by crashing Parkway 100’s  press conference outside the Academy of Natural Science – listening to the talks netted us free Dippin’ Dots and a Philly-centered dot-to-dot book (not just for kids – one of the pages has over 1,000 dots.  After 1/2 hours work, we still only finished 1/4 of the page).  Very excited about the activities going on to celebrate the Parkway’s 100 year anniversary – we already have our tickets for a ride in the Firefly pedicabs.  After the unexpected snack, we walked to Chinatown for 2 of our favorite treats:

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Bahn mi from QT Vietnamese Sandwich (48 N. 10th St.) – we get the #1 special with meat, carrot, cilantro and jalapeno on the best French bread in Philly.  At $6.60 for a sharable sandwich, it’s a great bargain. We ate in the cute little parking-spot park at 10th/Cherry – 2 planters, 2 benches, all squeezed in 1 parking spot right in the middle of Chinatown.

We followed with a Very Mango from Bubblefish (909 Arch St.) – boba for Tobey and popping yogurt for me.  Since Tobey loves bubble tea, we stopped by one of the Asian grocery stores to purchase our own tapioca balls.  We are going to attempt to make bubble tea at home.  Stay tuned for the results…

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http://bubblefishphilly.com/

 

Burgers And Potato Salad In Chinatown

China is huge, yet when I think of Chinese food it’s the same stuff: lo mein and egg rolls. Our explorations of Philadelphia’s vibrant Chinatown have proved that totally wrong. Our quest to explore Chinatown started after reading Craig LaBan’s Philadelphia Inquirer article on the best restaurants in Chinatown (http://www.philly.com/philly/food/Chinatown-Philly-LaBan-food-guide-dim-sum-sushi-Taiwanese-ramen.htm).

Our first stop was Xi’an Sizzling Woks.  Xi’an is a provincial capital city in northwest China and is the home of the famous Terracotta Army. Because of its location at the start of the Silk Road, its food has a Muslim/Middle-eastern influence – tasted in the “Chinese Hamburgers” –  chunks of cumin-flavored beef wrapped in a soft English-muffin like bun:

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Tobey & Pop Pop with noodles and (what’s left of) a Chinese hamburger

Another specialty is the biang biang noodles, which we ordered along with the hamburgers and a potato dish (China is now the world’s leading producer of potatoes).  We tried to order some of the specialties mentioned in the review, but since the menu is mostly in Chinese we had to make a few guesses.  The dishes came out one at a time. After starting on the hamburgers and the surprisingly crunchy noodle dish, our final dish came out.  This was clearly the noodle dish.  What we thought was noodles was actually the potato dish – who knew potatoes could be crunchy?  Turns out the dish is made from par-boiled (still crunchy) potatoes.  Xi’an Sizzling Woks was an adventurous start to our Chinatown quest.

 

Xi’an Sizzling Woks – 902 Arch Street

http://www.xiansizzlingwoksphilly.com/