As we scanned nearby cities to look for good food, we set our eyes on Philly. Somewhere somehow I glimpsed a note that said it is known as the city for foodies, not sure if I remembered it right, but I will go with that. 5 hours driving was not entirely easy with my 1-yea-old Marlon on board. We had to stop several times before he went completely crazy. When we caught him napping, we speeded up as much as we legally allowed.
Finally we arrived in our hotel right on the edge of China Town. Yes, our stubborn taste buds led us to where they most familiar with and long missed. We were in time for supper and decided to walk to this Malaysia restaurant called Panang.
Their roti canai was outstanding. So much so I ordered 4 of them, completely overestimated how hungry I was and underestimated how large they were. There were quite a few other dishes also hit the spot for us that night. Hainan Chicken was super tender and I recently acquired a recipe to make it at home (hooray!) . The roasted pig inners which were basically intestines (don't gross out just yet) tasted like foie gras (now you can if you really want to).
We left very happy and it was a great start!
If you ever think breakfasts are boring, come to China Town, it'll change your mind. Here are just a few of what we had those days.
These are the places you would want to go to get these. For the amazing Hongkong style Waffles, go to Yummy Yummy. For the savory tofu curd with all kinds of fixings, get it at Heung Fa Chun Sweet House, they got the most variety of traditional Chinese breakfast items. For sweet rice balls, you have to try it at Dim Sum Garden, each rice ball comes with a surprise inside. It is also a great place to have soup dumplings, they were just amazingly authentic.
For creative new American food, I searched up and down the area for place that would have a table for a family with kids. When the waiter/waitress saw me coming in holding my 1-year-old, their answer were consistent - no tables left. So I decided to be sneaky and left the kids outside while I was inquiring my next one, not sure if it was the trick I used, but they had a table! Still, that was no ordinary table, it was a corner in the lounge area and the whole restaurant uses candles for lighting. All I remember was the darkness and it felt like I was dreaming, very surreal. But the food was great absent the grumpy husband and the unsettling kids. The most memorable dish, - fried farmer's cheese curd, was outstanding.
You don't have to look hard to notice the candle lights flickering over the food. Let me just say it was not easy to get this shot. I still want to pay a proper undisrupted visit to Double Knott when I return next time.
Our visit to the Reading Terminal Market turned out to be less memorable. I was hoping to find something that can wow me, but was disappointed. The kids, however, had fun with the iconic pig that shows up pretty much in every traveler's photo that I saw.
After my luck with getting a table at those trendy places, I thought it would be even harder to get into Zahav, a modern Israel restaurant. I didn't want to take my defeat so I decided to try my luck one more time. As expected, the place was completely booked but they did have a few bar seats, first come first served. That was good enough, my kids probably going to be unsettling pretty quickly anyway, I just wanted to try a bite and go back to China Town for the real meal. When we arrived, I was told that one table got cancellation and we can have it. It was a sign, I meant to wrap up my foodie trip with a happy ending! So the one bite turned into a full tasting menu. Even though my 1-year-old kept throwing food and attempt to destroy the table, I kept very calm and posed and alternated between the dining table and the ladies bathroom where I could timely cool down my little Marlon before a complete melt down. To me, it was worth it. After all, I got a bite of each of the dishes.
Not to forget about some of the small places we tried. One fun place was this creperie called T-Swirl Crepe.
I took Annabelle and walked down to satisfy our sweet cravings. We chose different fillings from a long list of choices and enjoyed the crepes just the two of us together while watching over the sunny afternoon street right outside. That's when I realize how much Annabelle had grown up and she can now be my sweetest companion for many food adventures ahead.
Needless to say, we loved our Philly experience. There were so many new things to try and great memories to keep.