The Best Restaurants In Chinatown

15 great Chinatown restaurants for date night, group dinners, or dim sum.
The Best Restaurants In Chinatown image

photo credit: Gab Bonghi

If we wrote a guide to the best things about Chinatown, it would be ten times as long as what's below. The neighborhood is rich in history, public art, and stores to buy tchotchkes you don't need but want—and Philly is all the better for it. But we're here to point you in the direction of all the fantastic restaurants in the area. Whether you're looking for Cantonese dim sum on a Sunday morning or a casual BYOB where the specialty is meat on sticks, these are our 15 favorite restaurants in Philly's Chinatown.


photo credit: Gab Bonghi



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Sang Kee has been serving its crispy-skinned Peking duck in Chinatown since 1980, and it shows. The two-story, bare-bones restaurant is usually packed with couples, families, and groups of friends. Of course, they're sharing platters of the glistening duck with scallions and hoisin sauce, but the understudies here are just as impressive as the star of the show. Sang Kee also makes Hong Kong-style BBQ, noodle soups, and stir fry. Get the honey-coated BBQ roast pork, steamed Sang Kee-style pork dumplings, wonton soup, and beef in black bean sauce.

photo credit: Rachel Lerro



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If someone asks us where they should go for the best Szechuan food in the city, we always tell them EMei. It’s sleek and spacious inside, with robots wandering around the dining room and tables that can fit all of your friends (and enemies). Plan on sharing everything, like the crispy whole sea bass in a sticky glaze, mapo tofu, and pea leaves.

Whenever we’re in the mood for spicy-sweet satay, we go to Penang. This Malaysian spot is great for a casual lunch or catch-up dinner with a friend who appreciates meat on sticks. Split those (both beef and chicken), an order of stir-fried rice vermicelli with tofu, shrimp, and bean sprouts in spicy Thai chili sauce, and the crispy roti canai. The thin Indian pancake comes with a side of curry chicken and potato dipping sauce, and it’s one of our single favorite dishes in Chinatown.

As far as hot pot goes, Chubby Cattle is the best in Philly. The broths are flavorful (get the tomato oxtail), and all the meat, seafood, and vegetable add-ins come in huge quantities. You order with a server for the main stuff, but there’s also a little conveyor belt that zips around the tables filled with bowls of extras in case you decide you’d like to add a handful of enoki mushrooms to your soup. This place can get busy (and doesn’t take reservations), so you should expect a long wait. Luckily, it tends to be quiet during lunch hours, so that’s our favorite time to go.

Between flavorful homemade broth and well-made toppings like mushrooms and soy egg, Terakawa makes the best ramen in Chinatown. There are other mains like curry and donburi that are also great, as well as a list of solid appetizers like pork buns and gyoza. You might have to wait a bit to get a table.

Vietnam is essentially a one-two punch. The bottom floor is a Vietnamese restaurant with incredible dishes like vermicelli rice noodle bowls, papaya salad, and lime chicken. Once you and your friends have finished arguing over who gets the last spring roll, head upstairs to Bar Saigon. The second-floor space is basically a tiki bar, with flaming punch bowls and Mai Tais in colorful glasses. Hitting both in one night is one of our favorite birthday party moves, but each place is also great on its own.

This daytime Chinatown spot serves deep-fried curry chicken dumplings and steamed pork-and-leek dumplings that are just as memorable as their specialty tea and siphon coffee. Come starting at 8am to eat chewy, thick-skinned dumplings for breakfast instead of that granola that's been haunting your pantry since the Trump presidency. The small shop also makes Taiwanese beef noodle soup and crisp spring rolls filled with napa cabbage, carrots, and shrimp—both of which will get snatched up by anyone you bring.

There are plenty of good dim sum options in the area, but Nom Wah is especially useful if you want something quick, casual, or solo. We like their soup dumplings, crispy scallion pancakes, and chewy shrimp rice rolls. You order everything by checking off boxes on a little sheet of paper, and everything in the dim sum section costs around $5.

Ocean Harbor in Chinatown has everything we look for in a dim sum spot: convenience, consistency, and variety. It’s open from 10am-9pm every day (except Wednesday), which means you can eat wonton soup and fried seafood rolls for brunch, lunch, or dinner. Expect to see a fairly crowded room and a super-efficient operation. Pick a number, wait a few minutes, and then grab whatever you want from the carts.

Stepping into Pho Xe Lua is like stepping into the ’90s—tables are set with Chinese zodiac paper placemats, there’s a lobster tank in the entry, and scenes of palm trees and beaches are etched in enamel in the glass dividers. Time warp aside, it serves some excellent Vietnamese and Thai dishes in huge portions—the crispy spring rolls, pan-fried noodles with seafood, and shrimp pho are all standouts (and if you’re not sure what to get, the servers are more than happy to make recommendations).

In many ways, this cash-only BYOB in Chinatown is like other dim sum spots in the neighborhood: full of people getting mini facials after opening the lids on their steamer baskets. But the specialty here is Shanghainese pork soup dumplings, which come in orders of eight and cost less than an Uber from Fishtown to Queen Village. Build your meal around these soft, thin wrappers loaded with salty mounds of pork. The menu also has dependable go-tos like softball-sized buns, scallion pancakes, and crispy shrimp on sticks.

Nan Zhou specializes in hand-pulled noodles, and that’s exactly what you should be ordering here. The spicy beef soup is mandatory. It comes in a salty broth, topped with cilantro, radish, and pickled greens. If you inexplicably want something besides noodles, order the scallion pancakes or coconut chicken dumplings. They only accept cash, but there's an ATM out front.

Everything is solid at Xi'an, but the best thing is the Chinese hamburger, which comes in a few varieties (braised pork, spicy minced pork, or beef). Our favorite is the cumin beef with green pepper and chilies, but they’re all great. The menu also has Western Chinese dishes like some excellent biang biang noodles and spicy sour minced pork noodles, both of which go perfectly with taro milk tea.

The first thing you’ll see when you walk up to M Kee is a bunch of ducks hanging in the window. You want one of those ducks. You can order a half or whole bird, and can take it to go or eat it at one of the few tables inside. While you’re at it, order the beef with ginger and scallions, which is almost like a stew, and some fried dough to sop up the sauce. Make sure you bring cash since they don’t take cards.

This narrow spot on 10th Street has some great noodle dishes, particularly the shaved noodle soup with beef brisket or the shrimp jungle noodles. There are two types of broths to choose from—original beef and the thicker Szechuan style. Both of have tons of flavor with just the right amount of spice, and most dishes are under 10 bucks.

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