2/06/2013 09:40:00 AM

8 Must-Try Dumpling Shops in Philadelphia

Sang Kee Peking Duck House soup dumplings
Are you ready for the Chinese New Year? The Year of the Snake kicks off on Sunday, February 10, and there's no better way to celebrate than with dumplings. The tasty dough pockets symbolize wealth and are traditionally eaten on New Year's Eve to invite prosperity for the year to come. From bare-bones Chinatown kitchens to more luxurious (but still authentic) Chinese dining rooms, here's where to get your dumpling fix in Philadelphia this weekend.

Chun Hing Restaurant 
Food: 26
Decor: 15
Service: 25
Cost: $21
Going on 35 years, this “old-time” “Columns-A-and-B” Chinese off City Avenue in Wynnefield is still worthy of “important family events” thanks to “heaven-sent dumplings” and other “excellent” Sichuan offerings, owners who “know their customers by first name” and a staff so quick it seems like the “food appears before you order it”; few seem to mind there’s “no ambiance” to speak of.

4160 Monument Rd.; 215-879-6270

Sang Kee Peking Duck House 
Food: 25
Decor: 11
Service: 19
Cost: $20
“For decades”, Michael Chow’s Chinatown “classic” (and his take-out “gem” in Reading Terminal) has been dishing out “consistently outstanding”, “inexpensive” Chinese eats, including “succulent” duck, “out-of-control good” soups and “phenomenal” wontons; just remember – “they only take cash”, and “no one goes here for ambiance.”

238 N 9th St.; 215-925-7532

David's Mai Lai Wah 
Food: 25
Decor: 13
Service: 19
Cost: $20
“It’s 2 AM”, and chances are your “drunk friends are in Chinatown” at this “faithful” Chinese noodle house, a “late-night staple” that “steps up to the plate” with “memorable” “soups” and “traditional dishes”; seating might be “a tad tight”, but you get “good service most of the time”, plus “a lot of food for your money.”

1001 Race St.; 215-627-2610

Dim Sum Garden 
Food: 25
Decor: 7
Service: 16
Cost: $14
You say “xio long bao”, we say “soup dumplings” – either way, they “steal the show” at this storefront Chinese BYO under a train trestle in Chinatown; fans suggest you “ignore the fluorescent lights and bus-stop atmosphere”, for it’s “far better than it looks”, and “fast” service will permit you to order “sum more” for takeout.

59 N 11th St.; 215-627-0218

Lee How Fook 
Food: 24
Decor: 12
Service: 19
Cost: $22
This family-owned Chinatown Cantonese does “all the usual dishes from your corner Chinese joint, but so much better”, and at “rock-bottom prices”; it seems like you place your order and then “get served 10 seconds later”, and many think the place “looks better” after a renovation, as the next generation took over, though everything “tastes like grandma is still cooking it.”

219 N 11th St.; 215-925-7266

Sang Kee Noodle House 
Food: 22
Decor: 17
Service: 19
Cost: $22
“Tasty”, “handsomely presented” Chinese eats come “cheap and fast” at this duo in University City and Cherry Hill from Michael Chow, where there’s “something on the menu for everyone”; most report a “pleasant experience”, but they “can get busy at lunch” and there are often “lines out the door on weekends”, which is why some “recommend takeout.”

3549 Chestnut St.; 215-387-8808

Ho Sai Gai 
Food: 23
Decor: 14
Service: 22
Cost: $20
“Go where the locals go” advise regulars of this Chinatown “mainstay” whose “delightful” treatment of Chinese “classics” and “nice-size portions” make it a “cheap” thrill; the “super-friendly” staff, with chef Cathy Wu as “den mother”, adds to the feel-good experience, though tepid scores suggest surveyor indifference to a 2009 top-to-bottom renovation.

1000 Race St.; 215-922-4930

Shiao Lan Kung 
Food: 23
Decor: 6
Service: 18
Cost: $23
The “immaculate kitchen” at this Chinatown BYO “delivers satisfaction” in the form of dumplings in “sauce so good it’s drinkable”, “fat, fresh oysters” and the house specialty “salt-baked” seafood; so what if the ambiance is “near zero”– aficionados assert the “food brings you back”; P.S. late hours are a plus.

930 Race St.; 215-928-0282

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