Philly's food scene rocks at a lot of things, in recent years it has because something we can brag about. But it does not totally rock at a few things, Thai food is certainly one of them and dim sum is another. A few newer additions to the dim sum scene has us moving in the right direction. These include Nom Wah in Chinatown and Dim Sum House in University City.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor in NYC sits on one of my favorite blocks in Manhattan, Doyers St, which is tiny and curved so you are completely surrounded by Chinese small businesses making it easy to pretend like you are in China. Nom Wah opened all the way back in 1920! My aunt remembers eating there when she was young. Nom Wah does a very classic dim sum menu with a check the box ordering system instead of having ladies push carts around you. They followed the same model when they opened here in Philly 2 years ago. As soon as I heard it was opening, I had every intention of eating there right away and I really have no good reason why it took me 2 years.
The classic Nom Wah dish is the oversized egg roll- a deep fried egg crepe filled with a chicken and vegetable mixture. This is not something I would typically order, but I knew I had to here and was not disappointment.
Sticky rice, on the other hand, is something I frequently order. Nom Wah's is simple but flavorful, with pieces of Chinese sausage poking through the sticky, sweet, salty mound.
Rice crepe roll is another thing I order often, but I usually choose the classic shrimp stuffed version. And while they have that here, a friend's shrimp allergy had us ordering the cilantro scallion rice roll. It had the slippery texture that I go crazy for, but was overly sweet.
The wall paper in the bathroom is worth checking out, which will probably happen anyway if you avail yourself of the tea menu.
Nom Wah, 218 N 13th St, 267 519-2889
I was never totally impressed with Jane G's in Center City, the place seemed to offer better plated, more expensive, and less spicy versions of Szechaun food I could get elsewhere in the city. But I still wanted to check out their University City Dim Sum spot that opened this Winter. This second story spot is complete with trendy decor, a full bar, and a pool table.
I absolutely loved that an individual portion of Dong Bo Pork belly ($7) was available. This fatty pork dish is usual served as a giant portion, suitable for a crowd only. The ramekin of lacquered, melty pork belly is still rich enough to want to share.
Another decadent small plate is the beef scallion pancake, which is more like a deep fried wrap with thin slices of beef.
The spicy soup dumpling were also delicious and only a touch spicy, unlike our last plate.
I had seen photos of the red tinted shrimp shumai and had to order them on visuals alone. This were listed as "spicy" on the menu, while the soup dumplings were "very spicy." Unfortunately, the spice was completely overpowering. I didn't even want to eat a second. One small miss, though, after a series of hits and at least I got to cool my mouth with a beautiful cocktail.
Dim Sum House, 3939 Chestnut St, 215 921-5377